PESHAWAR: Newspaper icons and trade unionists paid tributes to late journalist Minhaj Barna and his struggle for the rights of newspaper workers and other “oppressed sections” of society. The remembrance was organised under the auspices of Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) at Peshawar Press Club.
The gathering was addressed by many notable journalists, including Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Pervez Shaukat, PFUJ General Secretary Shamsul Islam Naz, KHUJ President Arshad Aziz Malik, KHUJ General Secretary Yusuf Ali and senior journalist Shamim Shahid.
Shaukat praised Barna for waging a “hard and long movement” for the rights of journalists, and said that the union leadership continues to follow in his footsteps. He expressed pride in being a successor to “such a great trade unionist”, and said that Barna would always be considered the union’s de-jure leader.
As an illustration of Barna’s personality, he informed the gathering that Barna continued to attend the PFUJ’s meetings and share useful advice even after he was relieved from the union’s presidency.
He gave Barna the credit for the journalists’ struggle for the implementation of the Seventh Wage Award, as it was he who established All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation.
Naz said that Barna’s struggle was not limited to journalists, but also included labourers, peasants, and other “oppressed sections of society.”
He attributed the inclusion of the Newspapers Employees Service Act in the Constitution of 1973 to the struggle of Barna and his leadership of the journalist community. He said Barna not only raised his voice for the rights of working journalists, but also waged a struggle for the rights of industrial workers.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain paid rosy tributes to Barna’s struggle for a progressive justice system in the country. He said that the struggle of the late PFUJ leader reflected a collective approach, while people today are becoming followers of personalities.
He lauded Barna’s struggle for the rights of working journalists and said that such kinds of personalities were compulsory for positive change in society. He dispelled the impression that political parties had forgotten the sacrifices of journalists in the restoration of democracy.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2011.