ISLAMABAD:(APS) November 26, 2020- Journalists, media workers, civil society activists and representatives of trade unions and political parties on Thursday staged a protest demonstration outside Dawn Islamabad offices to protest against forced terminations of the workers and non-reversal of pay cuts by the newspaper management despite lapse of nearly two years.
The protest has been organised by Rawalpindi- Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) on the call of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in coordination with National Press Club (NPC).
The PFUJ has announced a series of protests in front of Dawn offices across the country in solidarity with the employees of one of the country’s oldest newspaper.
Addressing the protesters, Secretary General PFUJ Nasir Zaidi recalled the historical perspective of media struggle in the country as well as the directives of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the early management of Daily Dawn when the paper was launched in 1946.
“The Quaid said today a paper is being launched that will promote cause of Pakistan Movement. He directed the Dawn management to ensure and protect all the legal and constitutional rights of workers,” Mr Zaidi said while referring to the speech of the Father of the Nation.
Stating that Daily Dawn carries a legacy, Mr Zaidi regretted that the policies of the incumbent management were contrary to the directives of Quaid-i-Azam,
He announced that the PFUJ would extend its complete support to the workers of Daily Dawn as well as other media outlets against the suppressive policies of their respective managements. He urged the Dawn management to restore the terminated employees and restore the pay cuts along with the past arrears.
“The PFUJ has always maintained its principled stance and it was the PFUJ in 1971 that forced the then prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to release Altaf Gohar, the then editor of Daily Dawn, after he was arrested,” the PFUJ secretary general said. He said when the media was under crises under military dictators like Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf, it was the working journalists who faced the brunt and upheld the flag of the media freedom whereas the managements of the media organisations were not seen anywhere. In fact, he said, the media owners benefitted out of the PFUJ’s struggle against the Press and Publication Ordinance enacted during the martial law regime under Ayub Khan.
“It was the PFUJ at the forefront to defend Dawn when the authorities were bent upon branding it as a traitor entity in the recent past,” Mr Zaidi said. He said, “There cannot be any rule of law and constitution as long as there is no free voice in the country.”
RIUJ president Amir Sajjad Syed moderated the protest demonstration and cautioned the owners of media outlets that their current anti-worker policies would lead to drop in circulation of newspapers and closure of channels. He declared that the workers were united like a “stonewall” against the recent managements’ onslaught against the media workers soon after the improvement in relation of media owners with the government.
“This persecution of workers is not acceptable,” he warned.
Expressing solidarity with protesting media workers, president of the Punjab chapter of National Party Ayub Malik said Dawn had been the flag-bearer of free speech, media rights and provided voice to the voiceless – but the current situation in Dawn itself was not only tarnishing its own tradition and image but putting the future of this group at stakes. He said the failure of Dawn could lead to the failure of whole media sector in the country, which would be harmful for the overall press freedom and free speech.
President Awami Workers Party, Punjab, Ammar Rasheed, said only the unity among the workers could save the country from total chaos. He said the current situation showed that the owners and managements of various sectors had adopted the policy to enhance their wealth upon the hard work and toil of their employees.
Those who spoke in the protest included former PFUJ secretary general Nasir Malick, senior journalist Matiullah Jan, president APP Union Shazad Chaudhary, member FEC PFUJ Raja Shafiq and vice-president NPC Khalil Ahmed Raja.