Countrywide protests grow against suspension of 24NewsHD TV channel
A fiery protest by journalists outside National Press Club in Islamabad on Friday demanded of the government to immediately restore transmission of 24NewsHD TV channel, which is off the air for the 56th consecutive day.
On the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), journalists from across the country arranged protest rallies condemning the shrinking space for freedom of press, speech and expression in the country, following the fascist and dictatorial policies adopted by the government.
Speakers at the rallies, across the country arranged by 13 journalist unions, pointed out that media in the country was being controlled but it will be defended with the pen.
A huge rally was arranged by Rawalpindi Islamabad Union ofJounialists (RIUJ) outside the press club in Islamabad, attended and addressed by journalist bodies, politicians, representatives of civil society along with senior journalists calling for unity against defending press freedom.
Senator Raza Rabbani stressed upon taking the movement forward as the government is bent upon suppressing the media along with voices of dissent.
PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfikar, while addressing the rally, said "Rights guaranteed in 1973 Constitution of Pakistan can never be denied and will be defended at any cost as we are committed towards ensuring freedom of press and media in the country."
PFUJ Secretary General Nasir Zaidi while tracing the history of struggle of PFUJ for the rights of journalists and sacrifices for democracy and norms, urged the media community to defend their rights.
"We have no stakes to safeguard but to fight against forces of fascism who in the name of so-called democracy and selected government are adopting anti-media policies just to suppress media in the country."
NPC President Shakeel Anjum and Secretary Anwar Raza called for struggle towards safeguarding the media.
RIUJ President Punk Sajjad Syed and Secretary Asif Ali Matti said it’s an era of freedom of press and restrictions can't be imposed on it as we are committed to fight restrictions with an iron fist.
Senior journalist and TV anchor Hamid Mir said that journalists remain undeterred by abductions and censorship. He said they will not accept journalist protection bill rejected by the journalist community during the previous government which is reportedly being adopted by the current government.
Former President of PFUJ Afzal Butt criticised the government for retrenchments, lay-offs and non-payment of dues apart from retrenchments in private media.
Muhammad Ashraf of PTV retired employees forum apprised the rally about denial of detriment dues and forced retirement in PTV.
Amar Rasheed of Awami Workers' Party, Sardar Shaukat, Sagheer Chaudhry, Arshad Waheed Chaudhry, Nisar Ahmed, Sharjeel Rao, and Bilal Dar also addressed the rally and criticised the government for suspending transmission of 24News channel and adopting anti-media policies. They demanded the immediate restoration of the channel's transmission and advertisements and urged managements of regional newspapers to save families of journalists from further financial crises.