The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has condemned Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar’s statement, in which he accused media persons of colluding with the opposition and threatened to use force against the long march.
In a statement issued on Sunday, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi warned the minister against giving such ideas and made it clear the media workers would not tolerate such threatening language.
The government should not employ undemocratic and fascist tactics against the media as holding peaceful protests was a constitutional right of every Pakistani, which any incumbent government could not snatch, the two leaders of PFUJ said. They reminded Umar that the union could not be coerced into giving up its struggle. “We suffered imprisonment, lost jobs, prosecuted by the dictatorial governments of general Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf, but we never gave up on our struggle, and we want to continue our struggle against the PTI government’s plans to gag media and stifle dissenting voices.”
They made it very clear that PFUJ had always opposed dictatorial tendencies and worked for the supremacy of parliament and the rule of law. They further asserted that the fundamental rights of the masses could only be guaranteed by following the country’s constitution, which also secured the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Zulfiqar and Zaidi demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of Umar’s statement that accused the journalist fraternity of facilitating the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and threatened to use violence against the long march.
They also asked the PM to make Umar tender an apology for his irresponsible, provocative and undemocratic statements, asserting that it was denting the reputation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which claimed to be the champion of press freedom in the past and has also currently said that it wanted to protect freedom of speech and media.
The two leaders of PFUJ made it very clear that the journalist fraternity faced violence in the past, and it could not be deterred from continuing its struggle by these threats. “If the government wants to use force against the journalists’ fraternity, we are ready to face it. We cannot be pressured into adopting silence at the time when the government is attacking media, curbing freedoms.”
Talking to Minute Mirror, Zaidi said, “Instead of preventing journalists from exercising their democratic right, the government should scrap its plan to establish Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), which is draconian and aimed at putting curbs on electronic, print and social media.”