KARACHI: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) on Tuesday organised a peaceful protest outside the Sindh Assembly, asking the provincial government to pay outstanding dues to newspaper organisations and to ensure transparency in the award of government advertisements.
The demonstration was attended by a large number of workers and owners of newspapers and the CPNE members and officials. Members of other journalist bodies – the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and the Karachi Press Club (KPC) also took part. During the protest, the participants chanted slogans calling for resolution of their problems.
Addressing the protest, CPNE Chairman Dr Jabbar Khattak demanded that the government ensure payment of dues and transparency in award of government advertisements for newspapers.
“Due to nonpayment of dues, the newspaper industry is undergoing a crisis. We demand that the authorities immediately remove restrictions on circulation of newspapers,” he said.
He also called for transparency in award of advertisements, saying the agencies currently performing the task are tainted with corruption and are facing graft cases.
“A new process of award of advertisement should be formulated after mutual consultation of the government, the CPNE and ad agencies. Our demands are justified and can be easily resolved. We have not put any demands which cannot be met.”
Later, Secretary of Sindh Information Department Imran Atta Soomro met with the demonstrators and arranged a meeting of their representatives with Sindh Information Adviser and Anti-Corruption Official Barrister Murtaza Wahab at his office.
Addressing the demonstrators, Wahab said he has been supporting rights of the newspaper industry since the day he assumed the charge at the information department and assured them of all possible support.
“The government is formulating a mechanism for payment of the dues and the task will be completed soon,” he said, adding that the chief justice of Pakistan has also advised authorities to pay dues.
He said the provincial government is doing its best to ensure that no newspaper worker or journalist gets unemployed. Wahab gave firm assurance that the dues of newspapers would be paid soon.
The CPNE’s Dr Jabbar Khattak welcomed the assurance given by the information adviser and later demonstrators dispersed peacefully.