Deteriorating press freedom in Balochistan worries CPNE



QUETTA: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has declared the prevailing situation regarding press freedom in Balochistan as extremely bad and contrary to democratic standards.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the overall situation regarding press freedom in the province was reviewed in a meeting of CPNE’s standing committee in Quetta, which was chaired by CPNE President Zia Shahid.

A resolution declaring the freedom of press situation in the province as extremely poor and unsatisfactory was passed on the occasion.

The resolution states that “the intolerant behaviour of certain forces and groups against the media in the province has become a norm. Newspapers are facing severe pressure and hardships, and hindrances are also being created in newspapers distribution while media workers and newspaper sellers are facing severe life threats. Resultantly, journalists, media workers and newspaper vendors find themselves in an untenable situation due to the multidimensional sources of pressure around them.”

Expressing solidarity with journalists and media workers of Balochistan in the resolution, the CPNE has assured them their full backing and support and demanded of all state and government institutions and other bodies to ensure that the freedom of press and expression and right to information are respected according to the Constitution of Pakistan. The CPNE also demanded steps that can truly strengthen press freedom in line with basic human rights.

According to CPNE’s opinion, a free and responsible media’s presence is necessary for the stability of democratic standards in a democratic society while press freedom itself is a vital part of a democratic society and reflection of social diversity.

Strongly condemning the decision of Sindh government’s information department of issuing official advertisements through the corrupt advertising agency Midas Pvt Ltd, the CPNE said that the Sindh government was fully aware that Midas Pvt Ltd was denying payments to newspapers and magazines despite receiving billions of rupees from the government.

The meeting demanded that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, and Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah revert the decision of issuing official advertisements through Midas Pvt Ltd and ensure recovery of all arrears of newspapers and magazines pending with the agency.

The CPNE meeting also deliberated organizational and other issues and made several decisions in this regard.

The meeting was attended by Senior Vice-President Shaheen Qureshi, Secretary General AijazulHaq, vice-presidents Amir Mehmood, Rehmat Ali Razi, Anwar Sajidi and Tahir Farooq, Senior members Ikram Sehgal, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, Dr Jabbar Khattak, Siddique Baloch, Hamid Hussain Abidi, Kazmi Khan, Ameen Yousuf, Irfan Athar, Javed Mehar Shamsi, Syed Mohammad Munir Jilani, Abdul Khaliq Ali, Usman Shami, Syed Kamran Mumtaz, Abdul Rehman Mungrio, Muzaffar Ejaz, Mohsin Goraya, Khalilur Rehman, Aslam Khan, Mumtaz Ahmed Sadiq, Mohammad Younis Mehar, Bashir Ahmed Memon, Ali Ahmed Dhalon, Arif Baloch, Ahmed Iqbal Baloch, Naeem Sadiq, Syed Khalilur Rehman, Tazeen Akhtar, Javed Ahmed, Muneer Baloch, Ali Raza Lehri, Yahya Khan Sadozai, Mohammad Anwar Nasir and ZahidaAbbasi.  Quetta Press Club President Raza Rehman, Shehzada Zulfiqar, local newspaper editors, senior journalists, and other media workers were also present.

Meanwhile, delegations comprising CPNE members from across the country called upon Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Raheela Hameed Durrani, senior politician Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo and former chief minister Abdul Malik and apprised them of the difficulties and threats being faced by the media in Balochistan.