Closure of newspapers in Gilgit-Baltistan, job of journalists in danger; Who is responsible? -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Closure of newspapers in Gilgit-Baltistan, job of journalists in danger; Who is responsible?

Pakistan Press Foundation

Gilgit-Baltistan is a provincial-style region of the Kingdom of Pakistan consisting of 10 districts where 35 local newspapers are published for declaration from different districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, in which 3 newspapers with 8 pages of Urdu language and 20 newspapers with 4 pages of Urdu language are published on a daily basis. While 1 newspaper is published in English language while 10 newspapers are published in Urdu with 4 pages once a week and one weekly newspaper is published in local and Urdu combined language.

All these 35 newspapers have been registered in Gilgit-Baltistan, while on the other hand, about a dozen national newspapers registered from other parts of the country reach Gilgit-Baltistan after a day of publication from Islamabad and Rawalpindi stations by traveling five and a half hundred kilometers. But as national newspapers are dominant on the stalls here, readers prefer to read locally published newspapers.

It should be noted that before the year 2000, around 7 weekly newspapers were printed from Rawalpindi and came to Gilgit-Baltistan after taking the declaration from Gilgit-Baltistan. During that time, there was no printing press in the entire region. After the newspaper was able to be printed, Mushab newspaper first installed its printing machine in Gilgit and started publishing daily newspaper. The installation of printing presses up to 7 units started and by 2010 all the weekly newspapers in Gilgit-Baltistan except one, Azan, were almost all converted into daily newspapers, while some newspapers were also closed due to financial crisis.

According to the Department of Information, Gilgit-Baltistan, in August 2023, the total number of local newspapers included in ABC and media list has now reached 35 in Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan has always played an important role in the establishment of peace, including economic development, promotion of commercial activities, protection of regional culture and introduction of tourist places here at the international level.

But to run a newspaper organization successfully requires resources. Newspaper organizations have their economy linked to readership and advertising. There are a large number of industries and other commercial centers in other provinces across the country, while there is no private sector in Gilgit-Baltistan, which can be a source of income from providing advertisements to the local newspapers. They survive only with the help of advertisements, but government advertisements are also issued to local newspapers on the condition that if they write against the government, it will not be possible to provide advertisements in the future, due to which the local newspapers are facing severe difficulties today. are facing.

Iman Shah, resident editor of Osaf, a daily published in Gilgit-Baltistan, says that the government is using government advertisements as a weapon to suppress the voice of journalists. It stops the official advertisement, which causes financial loss to the newspaper, but also the salaries of the journalists and technical staff associated with the newspaper, from the salaries to the office rent, are also severely affected. It ranks second among local newspapers.

Government advertisements were stopped for 20 days in the year 2013 due to news against the government, which caused a loss of 25 lakhs. Gilgit-Baltistan once again banned government advertisements, causing the newspaper a loss of Rs 80 lakh.

The government of Gilgit-Baltistan wants them not to write against the government, but to cover up all the bad deeds of the government and publish news in their favor. The oldest and most widely read newspaper, Daily Newspaper, has also been targeted by the government.

In this regard, when we asked Raja Sultan Maqpun, the editor of the newspaper Two Gilgit-Baltistan, he said that if I keep mentioning the dates of stopping government advertisements, then your article will be filled with these dates. With 2 newspapers, whenever any news is published against the government, hundreds of times during the 29-year period of publication, the organization has lost millions of rupees by stopping the advertisement.

Amjad Barcha, editor of Wateen Gilgit-Baltistan newspaper, said that the newspaper was banned for 10 days in November 2022 and 20 days in January 2023 for raising public issues and holding the government responsible for the public issues. During these 30 days, the newspaper suffered a loss of more than 1 million.

In this regard, Jahangir Naji, resident editor of daily Bang Sahar, is saying that the daily Bang Sahar was published simultaneously from Gilgit-Baltistan, Rawalpindi and Karachi. Then the Rawalpindi edition was closed in 2015 and the Gilgit-Baltistan edition in October 2016. The main reason was that the newspaper was completely representing the people and the corruption in the government institutions, including the injustices faced by the bureaucracy towards the people. He was playing a publicizing role.

Due to which not only the government advertisements were stopped in the newspapers, but also the payment of dues was stopped, due to which the newspaper suffered from financial difficulties and remained closed until 2019, after which the publication of the Gilgit-Baltistan edition was started. But whenever any statement against the government is published, then the publication of advertisements is stopped, due to which not only the publication of the newspaper is affected, but also the salaries of the journalists associated with the organization are not received on time. Some journalists are forced to bear two, three or three months without salary and some journalists are forced to leave the organization due to non-payment.

Sattar Ahmad Farooq, a local journalist, says that due to the closure of government advertisements, the reporter also faces difficulties.

Shahzad Hussain, the reporter of Badshamal daily, also said that the closure of official advertisement has a direct effect on the reporters.

Information Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan Zameer Abbas was contacted in this regard, and he said that the establishment of the Information Department in Gilgit-Baltistan has been formally implemented on July 2013, since the Provincial Information Department started working here. The problems faced by the owners have been removed. Earlier, the newspaper owners used to go to the institutions of the respective districts to collect the arrears of government advertisements.

We have continued with a policy of paying the advertisement issued by the Information Department every two or three months from the Information Department, so that newspaper owners not only have to wait for years for payments from other districts. Rather, the expenses incurred for recovery from one district to another are also included in their savings, now the advertising balances of the institutions within all the districts are being received from the same place, so it means the government. It is playing its full role in the development of journalists and newspapers here.

He further informed that from July 2013 to 2023, there is no arrears of the newspaper owners for the government advertisements, the information department is responsible for all of them have been paid, about 3 dozen newspapers are printed in Gilgit-Baltistan and all of them are getting advertisements under the policy. There is no abuse in publishing advertisements with any newspaper, however, all these newspapers are issued advertisements in different categories under a policy from the Department of Information.

Deputy Director Information Department Gilgit-Baltistan while explaining the advertisement policy said that according to the 2018 policy, the Information Department will only issue advertisements to those newspapers which are on the Central Media List, the newspapers were divided into three categories, in which Category A I will include newspapers with a daily circulation of 30,000 copies and 50 employees, while category B will include those newspapers with a daily circulation of 15,000 copies and 20 employees, while category C will include those newspapers that neither. Neither fall in category A nor fall in category B. It includes web or online newspapers.

Regular and genuine publication of government advertisements not only on the Federal Government’s Central Media List (CML) but also as per the procedure laid down by the Audit Bureau of Circulation and similarly, government advertisement in any form of media. Published material and editorials should not be appropriated for punitive damages.

Advertisements will be of two types, body will be non-campaign ads and display ads. Non-campaign advertisements will include public notices, recruitment and government tenders and government tenders notices will be printed in two English national newspapers and one regional newspaper or all editions of one national newspaper while tender notices worth up to Rs. It will be given in six newspapers out of which four will be national newspapers.

Tender notices worth more than one crore will also be issued to two Urdu national newspapers and two national English newspapers and two regional newspapers will also be included and if the advertisement is given in more than one language, one of them will be in English. , two Urdu and one regional newspaper will be included. Vacancies will be advertised in three major national newspapers and one small newspaper while display advertisements will be issued only to specific audiences.

If an advertisement is related to the Federation, three out of the six newspapers will be issued to three regional newspapers along with Urdu or English newspapers, while the show notices of all government or autonomous bodies should be issued to one regional newspaper along with two national newspapers.

But the government is giving full support to all the local newspapers published from Gilgit-Baltistan for their development because there are some newspapers which come out with low circulation and do not go from one district to other districts and they are also issued advertisements. It is so that with the support of the government, the organization can enter the stage of strong position and be able to increase the scope of circulation from one district to another district.

Advertisement is the backbone of the newspaper. Due to the lack of private sector in Gilgit-Baltistan, newspapers are deprived of commercial advertisements. These local newspapers are supported only by government advertisements. Now in many countries abroad, government advertisements are also distributed under the policy of giving maximum coverage of government affairs in the newspaper, while here the government is lenient with the newspaper industry so that it can also be a part of government interpretation. But despite this, if a newspaper publishes any news against the government or criticizes the government, then the advertisements are stopped under the advertisement policy.

Source: Loksujag

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