Safma declaration one-sided: journalists -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Safma declaration one-sided: journalists

ISLAMABAD: Many journalists who attended a two-day summit of South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) and those who did not attend it were surprised that Safma issued a declaration Sunday that is totally one-sided.

They said partiality is so obvious in the Safma declaration that it is unlikely to serve any purpose. Several among those who were involved in drafting the declaration expressed their criticism even when the declaration was being drafted.

Some senior office bearers of the Pakistan chapter of Safma also showed their dislike over the one-sided approach adopted by their organisation. The declaration assailed judiciary and military indirectly and media directly.

Many of the speakers who addressed the two-day conference were partial and tilted towards the PPP while some of them were respectable and held impartial views. Journalists were also raising questions about the arrangements of three-day stay of delegates to the Safma conference from all over the country in four and five star hotels, tickets for them and expensive meals.

The journalists believed that this show was part of the government plan to divide and rule journalists. The plan was earlier reported in the media. From the journalist community those who dine with rulers are being used to prevail upon the journalist majority so that they also stop criticising the government policies.

The journalists also wondered that the declaration included points nearly in the same spirit as the government desired. About the media group, which was criticised directly in the Safma declaration, the journalists recalled that the man calling the shots in Safma was associated with that media group and was shown the door.

The journalist also expressed their surprise that Safma declaration failed to mention various important issues. For example, they said, the declaration did not mention the government moves to close or change numbers of TV channels through cable operators. The channels suffered losses of crores of rupees as a result of this government policy. The Safma declaration, the journalists, said also failed to demand removal of the ban on government ads, worth almost Rs 1 billion, for a particular media group.

The declaration also failed to mention the government policy of harassing media by putting pressure on financial institutions. The journalists said that throughout Pakistan particularly in Karachi slogans were written on walls against the particular media group. Ruling party people extended threats to media and cable operators. Allegations and abuses hurled inside and outside the Assembly were also not mentioned in the declaration. The journalists said, all matters of this media group are in court and proceedings of the court in this regard were published in the newspapers of this media group. But Safma office bearers did not bother to read them.

Particularly, the journalists said, the declaration failed to mention the government-sponsored press conference of the cable operators. The journalists said that in such circumstances APNEC, PFUJ and senior leaders of Safma’s Pakistan chapter should play constructive role.
Source: The News
Date:11/8/2010