Islamabad, The World Press Freedom Day was observed across the globe including Pakistan on Wednesday to pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The day was first announced in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) General Conference in 1991.
Here in Federal Capital the journalists and media workers across the country have warned the government that any attempt to muffle the Press Freedom in the country will be dealt with a strong resistance from the journalists’ community.
“We will go to any length to protect the freedom of expression and speech if the government takes any action against the Dawn newspaper, its Editor or Reporter,” said PFUJ President Afzal Butt while addressing a gathering of Journalists, who had assembled outside Dawn offices in Islamabad to express their solidarity with their colleagues on the Press Freedom Day.
The Day was observed across Pakistan as well as in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Rallies and protest demonstrations were organized in all the major cities and towns of the country to condemn the government’s directive to APNS to take “disciplinary action” against Dawn newspaper. Camps were also set up outside Dawn Offices across the country while rallies were also taken out to express solidarity with the newspaper.
In Federal Capital, journalists set up a camp outside Dawn Offices to express their solidarity. Holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans, the protestors raised vociferous slogans against government direction to the APNS. Speaking to the protestors, PFUJ President criticized APNS for its “willful silence” over the issue.
He said that The Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), of which APNS is also a member, has already dismissed government’s case against Dawn newspaper even before the JIT was formed. “After dismissal of this case by PCP, the APNS has no jurisdiction to hear it or take any disciplinary action against it.”
Veteran Journalist and senior PFUJ leader Nasir Zaidi speaking on the occasion recalled that the journalists’ community had given unprecedented sacrifices to achieve freedom of Press. He said that every institution in this country must respect the Press Freedom. “Institutions need to change their mind-set,” he said adding “We are living in 21st century and no country can prosper without freedom of expression.”
NPC Joint Secretary Abid Abbassi said the fact that journalists across the country are expressing their solidarity with Dawn workers is a proof that this community will not tolerate action against the newspaper. “We will not leave Dawn workers alone, we will fight with them till last.” Parliamentary Press Association President Qurban Baloch said the members of his association will oppose any move to damage Dawn and will resent any move aimed at that.