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Journalists boycott government functions in defiance of crackdown

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 6 November 2007 IFJ media release:

Pakistan media stand firm against crackdown

Journalists in major centres of Pakistan are maintaining their boycott of official government functions and defying the Government's anti-media crackdown ahead of meetings of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and local press clubs to organise coordinated defence of press freedom in Pakistan.

Newspapers across Pakistan continue to be critical of President Pervez Musharraf's actions in clamping down on the media through an emergency decree issued on Saturday. However, broadcasters remain off the air while their owners negotiate with the Information Ministry, reports the PFUJ, an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The PFUJ's Executive Council and other journalists' groups are considering extending a black-ban on reporting government functions, including a boycott of tomorrow's National Assembly session in which a resolution to support the emergency decree is expected to be pushed. Journalists boycotted a prime ministerial function in Islamabad on Monday.

A Global Day of Action is also being prepared, including organised protests at Pakistan embassies around the world to condemn the Government's attacks on media personnel and institutions and to call for the withdrawal of the anti-media ordinances.

The IFJ's Regional Director, Jacqueline Park, said the federation fully supports the actions of the PFUJ and media personnel in Pakistan and is on standby to send a crisis mission to the country. "The courage of media workers in defending freedom of expression in Pakistan is to be applauded," Ms Park said.

The media stand against the Government saw government authorities fail in their attempt to close a printing press of the Jang Group, Pakistan's biggest media group, in Karachi on Monday. In a statement, Jang said police backed off when the editor of the daily Awam newspaper refused a government order not to print a supplement.

Also on Monday, two newspapers received government notices ordering a change in their editorial policies, according to the PFUJ. The editor of one of the papers, the Ausaf, in Islamabad, declared the paper would not abide by the notice.

Meanwhile, senior television journalist Lala Asad Pathan, of Aryone World, remains in a safe place after authorities raided his home in Sukkur on Sunday and took two of his brothers, who are not journalists, into custody. The offices of Aryone have also been raided. The PJUF reports that detained media workers have been released, although authorities have not returned gear such as cameras.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 115 countries.

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