KARACHI: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) on Monday expressed grave concern over the Balochistan Information Department’s attempts to harass and pressurise the province’s newspapers and periodicals through repeated notifications, circulars and other tactics, terming it a clear negation of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
In a joint statement issued to the press, CPNE President Arif Nizami, CPNE Senior Vice President Imtinan Shahid, and CPNE Secretary-General Dr Jabbar Khattak condemned the recent anti-press steps taken by the Balochistan government.
They said that the steps taken to exert economic pressure and impose other restrictions on newspapers and periodicals would deprive the young generation and people of the terrorism-stricken province of mass media.
This, they said, would not only develop a sense of overall deprivation in the masses but also keep the youth away from democratic culture.
The CPNE leadership pinpointed the importance of local newspapers keeping the geographic and strategic significance of Balochistan and CPEC in view.
They said that the Balochistan information department should keep in mind as to how boldly the local press was moulding the people into the cause of democratic norms, development and reconstruction in the thorniest atmosphere of prolonging terrorism as well as shattered peace in the province.
They further said that the anti-press policy had exposed the present government of Balochistan and its hidden dictatorial design, adding that its hate against local newspapers had reached such a condemnable extent that even family particulars were being sought for issuing accreditation cards from local journalists.
“It looks as if provincial government was least interested in the rescue of local newspapers and periodicals,” they said while adding that some officers of the public relations department were out to cease publications of local newspapers under one pretext or the other for their personal gains.
The CPNE leaders demanded of the Balochistan government and Balochistan Information Department to withdraw all illegal and unnecessary notifications, directives, circulars and orders against local newspapers besides, taking positive and constructive steps to redress the problems of local press.
The CPNE leaders stressed the need of immediate steps for the promotion of local press in order to encourage editors, journalists and media workers and do away the discontentment prevailing in the newspapers of Balochistan and thousands of families depending local press.