The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wholeheartedly supports its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in its campaign against draconian laws imposed by General Pervez Musharraf on November 3 to gag the press. Particularly affected are electronic media and broadcasters, with the closure of 45 private TV channels and two FM radio stations when the laws were first imposed. Many programs are still not on air.
The campaign will focus on promoting a free and impartial media and judiciary to ensure coverage of the upcoming elections set for February 18 is allowed to take place in a free and just environment. The IFJ and PFUJ say it is impossible for journalists to do their work properly and report on the elections unless the Government revokes amendments to media laws, lifts all bans on broadcasters (including GEO-TV), and desists from pressuring cable operators.
The PFUJ’s campaign is supported by civil rights organisations, lawyers and organisations and journalists on a national and international level. The PFUJ has launched a petition and is encouraging individuals and organisations to sign and show their support.
Pakistan broadcaster GEO-TV remains restricted in its broadcasting after authorities concluded on November 17, 2007, that the station was failing to meet media regulations and broadcasting standards. The government has also banned prominent news anchors from the air, and media owners are under pressure to deny these journalists other assignments and to delay the resumption of their programmes.
IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the IFJ stands by the PFUJ as the leading journalists’ organisation in Pakistan and completely endorses its petition and that direction from authorities to shut down stations and ban anchors are an unjust interference of editorial content.
“Attempts by the Pakistan government and PEMRA to control the editorial policies of broadcasters in the lead-up to national elections is a serious threat to press freedom,” Park said.
“As long as the banning of staff and the shutting down of stations continues, there will be no democratic or free media in Pakistan. International support for the PFUJ’s campaign is vital.”
The PFUJ’s petition includes demands that the government cease raids on media offices, allow free access for media during the forthcoming elections, and withdraw the emergency ordinances issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
To see a full list of demands and sign the petition, please visit: http://www.pfuj.info/contants/news/morenews96.htm
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries