Sialkot’s neglected journalists
Awan seems to have little time for the journalists of her hometown.
Sialkot, the city of eagles, is proud to have produced many prominent politicians of the country. Of course, its most illustrious son was Allama Muhammad Iqbal but in recent years, it has given rise to many a prominent politician. One of them, of late, is Firdous Ashiq Awan, the current information minister.
Many journalists from the city supported her during her rise to political office, in large part because she was a local politician and in part because they believed that having an information minister from their city could help in some of their own many problems as journalists. For instance, the local press club in the city has been closed for some time because of differences and quarrels between various groups of journalists. However, now that she has landed the post of information minister, Awan seems to have little time for the journalists of her hometown, they say.
Also, very few local journalists are ever included, if at all, as part of official media delegations taken by the government on overseas tours. They say that journalists from other cities are taken but that those from Sialkot are usually left out. Here too, they say, they cannot understand why journalists from the minister’s own hometown are being left out.
Other than this, the local press club’s closure has also affected the journalistic community and its operation and cohesion. Various groups have surfaced and the closure of the one meeting place for them has perhaps given rise to other problems as well. It could well be that the frustrations being expressed against the information minister is the consequence of the journalists’ own inability to sort out internal differences. Also, demands expressed by them such as travelling as part of official government delegations or that a housing colony be constructed for journalists are bound to be frowned upon by most Pakistanis since they do not get any special treatment. But, perhaps, the point being made by them is that compared to their cousins in Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad, they are far worse off.