Link ads to timely payment of journalists’ salaries: Senators
Journalists walk out from Senate in support of their demands
By: Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House on Monday asked the government to link advertisements giving to newspapers to the regular payment of salaries to journalists along with their life insurance.
The House was told that Pakistan had become the most dangerous country for journalists and if appropriate measures were not taken, it would destroy the entire media industry.
Meanwhile, the journalists covering the proceeding of the Upper House staged a walkout and demanded the government ensure their proper security and compel the owners of newspapers to regularly pay salary to their employees.
After the walkout, leader of the House in Senate Jehangir Badar and Minister of State for Commerce Abbass Khan Afridi tried to calm down the protesting journalists, but they said that several of their colleagues gad been killed while performing their duties in different parts of the country. They said that neither the government nor the owners of the media houses had provided proper compensation to the martyred journalists’ families. They said that there was no security for journalists, and provided him a list of their demands. Later, Jehangir Badar informed the House that journalists wanted compensation for the families of media persons who had been killed in the line of duty. He told the senators that 95 journalists had been killed during the past year, which was the highest number of casualties in the category in the world.
“The government made several promises regarding issuing of funds/grants to the National Press Club,” he maintained.
He also informed the House that journalists had arranged for a sit-in just in front of the Parliament House in support of their demands. He said that he was going to join the sit-in and also asked others to join him.
ANP Senator Zahid Khan informed the House that journalists had always walked out for their rights, but the government had failed to fulfil their demands. He said they were working in miserable conditions in their respective organisation, and regretted that at the end of the month, they were denied salaries. “They are killing but no arrests are made,” he said, demanding the government provide proper security to media persons.
He suggested the government to link advertisements to newspapers/channels to the timely payment of salaries and other incentives to the employees of media houses. He urged the government to take appropriate measures in this regard. Accepting the journalists’ demands, PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq said that Pakistan had been declared the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. He said that journalists in the country were performing well, but regretted that their working conditions were pathetic. He said that a working journalist, Wali Khan Babar, was killed in Karachi and six witnesses in the case were also targeted and killed. “In such a miserable situation, how can the journalists perform their duties?” he asked.
He said the PML-N had accepted all demands of journalists and would join their sit-in. Mohsin Leghari suggested that before granting the declaration to the owners of newspapers, they should be bound to provide insurance to all journalists working in their respective organisations.