Faraz hints at good news for media workers before Eid
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said on Sunday that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would take all possible steps for resolving financial problems being faced by media workers.
Addressing participants of a media workers’ sit-in outside Parliament House, the minister said he would strongly advocate the cause of the media industry at all relevant forums and play a proactive role in finding a durable solution to their genuine problems.
He said journalism was a noble and very important profession keeping in view its role in the political and social culture. An independent and vibrant media and functioning democracy were inter-dependent.
The media’s role in the ongoing fight against coronavirus, he said, was appreciable. Like doctors and paramedical staff, the media persons were front line soldiers in this war.
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PFUJ asks federal government to end ‘unannounced censorship on media’
Mr Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan after coming into power took practical measures for welfare of vulnerable segments of society facing financial constraints.
Media workers, he said, had also been facing financial hardships for quite some time. He assured the participants of the sit-in that he would meet their representatives in a couple of days and their problems would be addressed on priority. He expressed the hope that there would be good news for them before Eidul Fitr that a major chunk of their outstanding salaries was paid.
The minister said he had come to the sit-in to express solidarity with the protesting media workers and to get information about problems being faced by them. He said media personnel remained in the forefront of PTI’s struggle against the status quo and its government would never let them down.
He said he himself belonged to a literary family. As his father was related to the pen profession, he considered himself part of that tribe, so he could not think of going against the interests of this profession.
He said the government appreciated the constructive criticism by the media as the watchdog, which was helpful in improving governance. He expressed the hope that the media would also highlight the constructive and positive steps taken by the government.
Saleem Shahid adds from Quetta, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) president Shahzada Zulfiqar has demanded from the federal government to end what he called an unannounced censorship on media, restore 25 per cent quota of local newspapers in advertisements and give a bailout package to media houses, which should be conditional on the payment of workers’ dues, elimination of forced dismissals and pay cuts.
He was speaking at a demonstration organised here on Sunday to mark the World Press Freedom Day.
Mr Zulfiqar also demanded provision of bailout packages for press clubs, provision of safety kits for journalists visiting hospitals or quarantine centres for the purpose of their work and the martyrdom status if a media worker dies while performing the coronavirus-related duty.
He said that a policy should be formulated with regard to education expenses of journalists’ children.
The PFUJ president said that the government had to pay outstanding dues of Rs6 billion to media houses. “We want a guarantee from the government that it will make payment of dues on the condition that media houses will pay dues of their workers,” he added.
He said that the media was currently suffering from a worst crisis. “I strongly condemn retaliation against the media,” he added.
Mr Zulfiqar said the government had abolished 25pc quota for local newspapers in advertisements which has led to closure of many local newspapers.
He said a centralised media policy is a violation of PTI’s own manifesto. “We condemn it.”
He added that the government should give bailout package to the media institutions to deal with the current crisis.