PFUJ Steps up Battle for Media Freedom in Pakistan


The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), is leading journalists in Pakistan into phase two of their battle against anti-media decrees imposed by President Pervez Musharraf since November 3.

The PFUJ will lead protest camps at press clubs until November 28, which has been declared a Black Day, ahead of a review of national strategy at the weekend. It also threatens to boycott coverage of the President and the interim Prime Minister.

PFUJ’s Secretary-General Mazhar Abbas said continuing protests by Pakistan’s media workers include calls for all charges laid against journalists to be withdrawn. The PFUJ reiterates its condemnation of the government’s two anti-press laws brought in by the President, the continuing bans on private television channel GEO and pressure on broadcasters to conform to the “press advice” of the authorities.

It reports that some broadcasters have been told to suspend popular talk shows on political issues. The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) has responded to this by hosting talk shows on the streets, which are drawing good crowds.

The PFUJ, supported by the IFJ, salutes those journalists who were arrested and beaten by police in Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Peshawar and other cities during protests since November 3.

“The courage of the very many journalists in Pakistan who refuse to bow to bans on freedom of expression is highly admirable,” said IFJ-Asia Director Jacqueline Park.

The PFUJ’s review of the situation follows a joint condemnation of the President’s actions by the PFUJ, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) at a meeting in Karachi last week, following an international IFJ mission to the country.

The four bodies, which together represent all electronic and print media in Pakistan, issued a statement declaring the President’s actions had put the cause of a free press in Pakistan back by two decades. They demanded that all bans on media be lifted, and said they would not enter into discussion with authorities until the Government reversed its withdrawal of advertising from some publications. Overall, the alliance demanded that the anti-media laws and amendments be revoked and any charges against journalists in relation to their protests be dismissed.

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 120 countries