=> KARACHI (January 24 2008): In view of high pre-pol
KARACHI (January 24 2008): In view of high pre-polls volatility in the country, press clubs should collect and allocate funds for insurance of journalists. The appeal, fully backed by the audience, was made by Fazal Qureshi, Chairman, Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), at a ‘Workshop for Journalists on Covering the Elections 2008’ held here at a hotel on Wednesday.
The workshop was attended by several junior and senior journalists from print media with Altaf Mujahid, Fazal Qureshi, Yousaf Khan, Naseer Ahmed Saleemi, Qadir Qureshi, Owais Aslam Ali and Muqtadir Mansoor as its panellists.
The workshop was organised by the PPF to take input from and brief/train the journalists on coverage of the forthcoming general elections with a complete sense of “responsibility, impartiality, accuracy, scrupulousness and safety”.
The PPF chairman urged reporters to stick to the three major principles–scrupulousness, impartiality and accuracy–while filing a story giving top most priority to their safety first.
Owais stressed the need for forming ‘Committee for Safety of Journalists’ which could formulate guidelines and take concrete steps to ensure the safety of working mediapersons. “Journalists are falling victim to bombings, and this will continue in future; but what we have to do is to go beyond rhetoric’s,” he said.
Yousaf, terming the Elections 2008 as “most important and disputed” in political history of the country, urged the media to cover the destiny-changing event with a more responsible approach.
Qadir asked the participants to keep national interest in view while performing professional obligations as, he said, it was the media which could change the destiny of nations. He lamented that media and political leadership could not play their due role in projecting a softer image of Pakistan, which was under immense international and national criticism in the aftermath of December 27, 2007.
Highlighting importance of media in shaping public opinion Qadir said the government, which had created media hype on an unprecedented economic boom during the last five years, was unable to provide basic food needs to the masses.
He said the reporters must equip themselves with contact numbers of all concerned people, an coverage schedule, unbiased approach, sense of responsibility, basic information about political background of the candidates before covering Election 2008 which may “make or break” the country.
Mujahid said as a highly uncertain situation was prevailing in the country in terms of political alliances and re-alliances and the resultant strong or week positions of the politicians in different parts of Sindh the reporters should keep a vigilant eye on the rapidly changing political scenario.
Muqtada, terming the Election 2008 as “mother of all elections”, said that current political atmosphere was more “charged” than that of the 1971 polls. He said the country was passing through worst kind of volatility in the face of suicide bombings and threat to life of the political leadership.
Saleemi guiding journalists on responsibilities on Polling Day termed full engagement in the election process, data collection on poling stations etc a must. He said a reporter should not fight with the culprits in case of rigging on the polling day but his/her job was to “observe” and “report” the irregularities.
Bukhari advised journalists to stay away from the stage during coverage of a public meeting and ensure that necessary security arrangements are made by the law enforcers. He said the media persons should get “polling schedule” from the Election Commission and mark all sensitive polling stations and behave cautiously.
“Leave the site of violence immediately, but don’t go far away, and report from an appropriate distance and see what action the returning officer takes,” he said.
Abu Bakkar declared Lyari, Malir and Dalmia most volatile areas of Karachi for journalists in terms of covering the forthcoming elections. Bukhari, Zubair, Nazir, Abu Bakkar and Ghazala Fasih also addressed the gathering.
Source: Business Recorder