Special fund for families of martyred journalists sought
ISLAMABAD: Participants of a seminar on Wednesday demanded of the federal and provincial governments to arrest culprits involved in killing of 112 journalists across the country and establish special fund to provide financial assistance to the families of all of them who sacrificed their lives in pursuance of their professional duties.
The seminar was held by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in coordination with Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and National Press Club (NPC) to mark International Journalists Martyrs Day.
In all, 112 journalists have so far been killed in Pakistan out of which 72 lost lives in targeted killings, 22 were killed in suicide attacks, 14 got killed after their kidnapping, bodies of two journalists were found in the open and throats of two journalists were slit by murderers.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said he would raise the issue of security of the journalists in the cabinet meeting because it is responsibility of the government to protect life and property of all the citizens of Pakistan.
“Journalists always rendered sacrifices for the cause of freedom of expression and the government and people of Pakistan acknowledge their role in protecting national interests,” he said.Deputy Speaker National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi said many journalists have so far sacrificed their lives in ongoing war against terrorism and the nation would always remember their role in protecting and promoting national interests.
“Those who are involved in killing of journalists want to push Pakistan into the state of chaos and turmoil and they are enemies of this country. I would raise the issue of killing of journalists in the National Assembly and also approach the government to establish funds for families of the martyred journalists,” he said.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Farhatullah Babar said he would point out the issue of non-issuance of funds announced by former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to disabled journalists in the upcoming meeting of the standing committee.
He said: “A bill would be drafted in coordination with the PFUJ that would be presented in the Parliament to ensure security and protection of the journalists and their families.”
Secretary Information of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Hafiz Hussain Ahmad said his party would coordinate with other political parties in the Parliament to ensure that the respective governments take serious steps to arrest those involved in killing of the journalists.
The PFUJ president Afzal Butt said it is really unfortunate that the federal and provincial governments have so far done nothing to arrest people involved in killing of the journalists that would ultimately encourage other segments who want to mute the voice of media.
The NPC president Shaharyar Khan said the families of martyred journalists are facing financial constraints but the government is yet to take any step to provide them any kind of relief.
“The government neither arrested killers nor provided relief to the families of the martyred journalists that shows its insensitivity towards the profession that is considered fourth pillar of the state,” he said.
The RIUJ secretary general Bilal Dar said journalists would continue to raise the voice of the people and put in their best efforts to help protect rights of the downtrodden segments of the society.
Social activist Julius Salik said media acts like eyes and ears of the society and if it comes under attack then the society may become blind and deaf so it is necessary to take immediate measures to provide security to the journalists and media houses.
Those who also spoke on the occasion included representative of Freedom Network Adnan Rehmat, senior journalist Iqbal Khattak and family members of the martyred journalists.