Pakistan Government Meets PFUJ to Discuss Media Crisis

The Government of Pakistan has called for talks with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), to discuss the media crisis in the country since the Government imposed emergency decrees at the weekend.

Pakistan’s Minister for Information, Mohammad Ali Durrani, will meet senior officers of the PFUJ and the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) in Islamabad this afternoon, local time.

The Government’s approach to the PFUJ follows the union’s strong and sustained condemnation of two anti-media ordinances issued by Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf, on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the PFUJ put an ultimatum to the Government demanding that it rescind the ordinances and restore all media broadcasts within 48 hours. If the Government fails to act, journalists will declare tomorrow a “black day” during which they will wear black arm bands, hoist black flags and continue to boycott official government functions.

“Our demands are clear that the Government must withdraw the ordinances and the bans on private television broadcasters,” the PFUJ’s Secretary-General, Mazhar Abbas, said early today before the meeting.

The Minister will meet Mr Abbas, PFUJ President Huma Ali and Senior Vice-President Fauzia Shahid, as well as the President and General-Secretary of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ).

However, there are concerns about the Government’s attempts to divide the media amid reports that operators of some small news broadcasters have capitulated to the Government and signed a notice that they will abide by the anti-media ordinances.

The IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park, said a hard-line defence of a free and independent media in Pakistan must be maintained nationally and internationally. She called on activists around the world to join the PFUJ and the IFJ in their continuing protests against Pakistan’s anti-media measures, building up to a Global Day of Action on 15 November.

Media advocates are encouraged to make public statements condemning President Musharraf’s repressive actions. IFJ affiliates will deliver letters of protest to Pakistan’s embassies around the world while governments will be asked to apply diplomatic pressure on Pakistan’s Government to rescind the emergency decrees.

For more information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 115 countries