The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses serious concerns over the act of the regional authorities that has forced the closure of all local newspapers in the remote, mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan territory.
On March 21, all local newspapers in Gilgit-Baltistan suspended publication for an indefinite period as a protest against nonpayment of advertisement bills by the regional authorities and changes in rules which amounted to gagging the press. The newspapers in the remote northern-most part Pakistan largely depend on government advertisements for survival. The newspapers said they would remain shut until their dues were cleared and changes introduced in the rules adversely affecting the media industry.
The newspapers closed down include Roznama K-2; Ausaf; Badshamal; Mohasib; Bedar; Himalaya Today; Daily Tarjman; Daily Cargil; Roznama Azaan; Roznama Salam; Sada-i-Gilgit; JB, Express; Siachin; Himalaya and Wateen. The jobs of more than 2000 working journalists are at risk due to this shut down.
According to reports, the Gilgit-Baltistan Newspapers Society (GBNS) accused the regional government of using various tactics including filing cases and arresting journalists, intended to close down the media industry in the region. GBNS Secretary Ashraf Ashoor told Pakistan Today that the regional government also tried to curtail media freedom by issuing notices to media organizations with an intention to either completely control local media or close them down.
Journalists across the country are observing April 1 as a ‘Black Day’ to protest against the repressive move of the government.
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