Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Pakistan 22 November 2007

Declaration of the IFJ/PFUJ mission in Islamabad

The mission team includes Kanak Dixit, a veteran journalist and defender of press freedom in Nepal; Iqbal Khattak, a representative of Reporters sans frontieres (Reporters Without Borders); and Mr Ali, supported by the President of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, Afzal Butt, and the PFUJ’s Fauzia Shahid and C.R. Shamsi.

We, the participants representing the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and other members of civil society, including Reporters Without Borders, hereby declare our strong and unified defense of the right to a free media and free expression, and demand that the right to know should not be taken away from the people of Pakistan. The liberty and safety of journalists and editorial independence are principles of press freedom that we hold as sacrosanct and non-negotiable.

At the very outset, we denounce the imposition of the Provisional Constitutional Order announced on 3 November, 2007, and call for a rollback of all decisions and actions associated with that order. We believe in the reinstatement of the independent judiciary as existed before that date, and believe in the return to the Constitution of 1973 as the only way forward to democracy, pluralism and people-power.

In the meantime, we condemn, as actions against the people of Pakistan, all steps against the media carried out under the PCO. We condemn the two anti-media amendments to press ordinances, as well as the so-called code of conduct that is unilaterally sought to be imposed on media organizations. We condemn the government for having prevented the coverage of the movement opposing emergency rule. We condemn the detention of journalists. We condemn the ban on satellite television channels. We condemn the pressure put on independent press groups. We condemn the amendment of the PEMRA laws, meant to hurt television broadcasters. We condemn the seizure of the equipment of FM radio stations.

We believe that the government’s anti-media actions represent a coordinated policy to prevent the people of Pakistan from receiving independent news and analysis. To this end, the policy is also aimed at attacking the livelihoods not only of thousands of journalists but tens of thousands of individuals working in media organizations throughout the country.

At a time when the life and livelihood of journalists is suddenly in danger, we demand the government to seek the whereabouts of Riaz Mengal, reporter of ‘Intikhab’ in Khuzdar District, Balochistan. We demand that the government arrest the killers of the widow of the late journalist Hayatullah Khan, and provide for the welfare of the couple’s children as well as their relocation from North Waziristan.

The continuous demonstrations by journalists taking place throughout the country are a reminder to the government that the demand for freedom of expression is held dearly by the media world of Pakistan. We commend journalists who have continued these demonstrations throughout the country, and who have dared to face arrest and incarceration.

We demand that the government immediately revoke the two amendments to the ordinances as well as withdraw the so-called code of conduct. We demand that the charges brought against journalists who have been fighting for freedom after the imposition of emergency rule must be immediately dropped.

We believe that President Pervez Musharraf has crossed all bounds in seeking to continue his autocratic rule by muzzling the voice of media, and pledge never to give up the fight for press freedom and the people’s right to know.

In this country
26 May - Pakistan
Video on plight of Swat valley journalists
26 May - Pakistan
Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists
15 May - Pakistan
Emergency funds for journalists who have had to flee Swat valley fighting
12 May - Pakistan
Journalists flee Swat valley en masse
6 May - Pakistan
Media in danger in Swat valley

in the annual report
Pakistan - Annual report 2007
Pakistan - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised