SA rejects restrictions on freedom of speech
KARACHI-The Sindh Assembly on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution, asking the media houses to refrain from terminating employees and release their salaries without deduction.
Three identical resolutions tabled by the Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Pakistan People’s Party’s Sadia Javed and Syed Abdul Rasheed of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal were clubbed together by the chair. “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, this house rejects the restrictions on freedom of speech. This house also demands that the Sindh Government and the owners of print and electronic media to stop termination from jobs and deduction in the salaries of reporters, cameramen and other employees,” one of the resolutions reads.
Speaking on the resolution, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi said that media persons of several organisations are deprived of salaries for the past many months. She said that the media houses are also terminating employees from jobs without any appropriate reason. The GDA lawmaker demanded the federal government to look into the matter and ensure resolution of media persons’ issues.
Sadia Javed lambasted the PTI-led federal government and said that unemployment took place in its regime and the same affected the media industry as well. Paying tribute to journalists, Sadia said that many media persons had laid their lives in the line of duty. Syed Abdul Rasheed stated that 72 journalists were killed since 2002, whereas six were kidnapped and 171 were subjected to torture. The media persons face finical strain owing to this current crisis.
Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said they planned establishment of Bachat Bazaars in Karachi for Ramazan where essential commodities would be available at reasonable prices. He said those shopkeepers who were affected by encroachment removal drive would be accommodated in Bachat Bazaars.
NO FUNDS FOR HERITAGE PRESERVATION
Separately, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah told the assembly that the department did not have funds required for renovation and conservation of protected heritages sites in the province.
He said this while furnishing statement and replies to the queries of the lawmakers during the Question Hour session in the provincial assembly.
Shah was of the view that there should be an endowment fund for the conservation of national heritage as the department did not have money for the task.
To a supplementary question, the minister said that there is need for amending the law for effectively conserving protected building.
He said that the offence of causing damage to the protected building involved imprisonment up to term of three years and fine of Rs100,000.
To a question asked by Grand Democratic Alliance’s member Nusrat Sehar Abbasi on behalf of her alliance member Arif Mustafa Jatoi, he said that the former Hotel Metropole was notified as protected heritage site under Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994 in 2011.
He said that the building was not demolished, but it was neglected by the owner leading to bad maintenance of the building. “It is the responsibility of the owner to maintain his building”, he added.
The minister said that the former Metropole Hotel was declared protected building.
SHORTAGE OF LIBRARIES
Sardar admitted that there was shortage of public libraries across the province particularly in Karachi, saying that there are 23 public libraries in 29 districts of Sindh.
Giving break-up, he said that three public libraries were in Karachi, two in Hyderabad, four in Khairpur, three in Larkan, and one each in Badin, Mitiari, Dadu, Jamshoro, Thatta, Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kambar Shahdadkot, Naushero Feroze and Sanghar.
In reply to a supplementary question asked by Muhammad Hussain of the Muttahida, the minister said that the department did not have land for establishing new libraries in Karachi. “We can set up more libraries in the city if we get land”, he said.