Balochistan politicians and civil society call for unity in defense of media freedom


QUETTA: Political parties and civil society in Balochistan have sharply criticized the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and anti-media forces for usurping press freedom, freedom of speech and expression, and called it an authoritarian tactic.

Speaking at the regional convention organized by the Federal Union of Journalists of Pakistan (PFUJ) and the Union of Journalists of Balochistan (BUJ) in Quetta, they called for a common movement to safeguard peoples’ rights, in particular the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression and expression guaranteed by the constitution of 1973.

Former Balochistan Chief Minister and National Party Chairman Dr Abdul Maalik said successive governments and the establishment are not solely responsible for the usurpation of free speech, but the owners of the houses press are also responsible. “The main political parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) should guarantee and protect freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression,” he said. The former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and Senator Kamran Murtaza called for a new but comprehensive charter of democracy “to protect the rights of the people and constitutional supremacy”, which is a need of the era. “Political parties must prevent the establishment from suppressing press freedom,” he said.

Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal of the Pashtoon Khuwah Milli Awami Party, Abdul Haq, Amir Jamat Islami of Balochistan, Dr Nashanas of the National Party of Balochistan (Awami), Maulana Abdul Qadir Luni of JUI (Nazriyati) and Jamal Shah of PMLN, underlined for a new contract social strengthen the federation and protect rights because “the current constitution has failed to guarantee the rights of the people, especially those of the lower strata of society,” they said.

Salman Ashraf President of BUJ, Abdul Khaliq Rind President Press Club Quetta, Ayub Jan Sarhindi, union leader Farooq Shah, Rahat Bulaidi of Balochistan Bar Council, Fida Dashti of Quetta Chamber of Commerce, and Shams Mandokhail of HRCP called for unity within the ranks of politics leaders, civil society and media organizations to prevent the PTI government and the establishment from seizing the rights of the people, especially the freedom of press and expression, otherwise they will have to face to the anger of repressed segments of society.

PFUJ President Shehzada Zulfiqar said the PFUJ has always confronted all regimes “to protect the rights of oppressed peoples”. He called on all political parties and civil society to support the PFUJ’s long march from “Quetta to Islamabad for freedom of press and expression”. PFUJ General Secretary Nasir Zaidi paid rich tributes to political leaders and civil society in Balochistan and said that “you have always fought and challenged the establishment and the dictatorships to protect the rights of the people of the province”. He said that since the establishment of Pakistan, PFUJ has always challenged black laws and today we are challenging the law of Pakistan Media Development Authority again. Zaidi called for a broader alliance to ensure the protection of the rights of the Pakistani people. Afzal Butt, former president of the PFUJ, called for support for the long march. “We are fighting for the rights of all segments of society,” he stressed.


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