Working Journalists dying for non-payments

Journalists' miseries of reporting in Pakistan

PTI Government appears to be stone-hearted as they have voiced no concern over journalists dying for non-payment of salaries and job termination letters. Their colleagues’ eyes are full of tears as they report their deaths and terminations. In the latest incident, Journalists in Islamabad protested against the Capital TV management for firing a cameraman named Fayyaz Ali, who died of cardiac arrest one day after being fired from his job.

Capital TV cameraman dies of cardiac arrest
Capital TV cameraman dies of cardiac arrest

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, while reportedly holding press conferences has said on many occasions that the government is committed to protect the rights of journalists and work for their economic well-being. She appeared to be generous and kind to the family of the Capital TV Cameraman, personally visited them and announced one million Rupees, promised employment to their love ones. Its a great thing but she should announce the same package to those who passed away due to the financial crisis created by the government herself. Zeeshan Butt Nawa e Waqt reporter was gunned down while he was complaining about the expected life threat and the whole conversation was recorded on his phone that caused an embarrassment on an international level above all his name was posted on Newseum Wall in DC. His killers are still free and they recently attacked his brother who was fighting for justice.

Govt to protect rights of journalists Firdous Ashiq Awan
Govt to protect rights of journalists Firdous Ashiq Awan

Fayyaz Ali, the resident of Islamabad, was already under severe mental and financial pressure as he was not paid a salary for the last 10 months. One night, when he arrived at his home after being fired from the job, he felt chest pain and soon after that he stopped breathing.

He had continuously been working pinning hope to his organization that it would release his salary the next month, which never arrived.

Capital TV is reportedly owned by Basit Sheikh a close relative of a former advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh Sharmila Farooqi.

Pakistani media workers are encountering a stark financial crisis since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government came into power. Media moguls have found an excuse for sacking media persons and cutting their salary in the name of generating lower profit than they earlier extracted from the hard work of the employees. When media workers try to raise their voices for the right of timely payment of salaries, they are threatened of losing the job.

Earlier, an employee of a Lahore-based private channel had committed suicide after he was not paid a salary for several months. Workers of several TV channels are also deprived of their salaries for about 10 months.

Journalists in Pakistan are living in a continuous nightmare despite their hard work. There is a common approach of media owners to keep working journalists under financial pressure by denying them salaries on time.

Instead of saying some words of sorrow over the plight of journalists, regrettably, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan defended his contempt for the country’s media by claiming journalists often ‘cross the line’.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum, Imran Khan expressed his disapproval of journalists in Pakistan, saying the media today is more “vibrant” and “free” than in the past, but also “crosses the line” more frequently.

Khan also accused media organizations of publishing libelous stories about him and his cabinet members without facing any consequences.

He had strong words for the Pakistani media, accusing journalists of penning libelous stories and anti-democratic propaganda in the name of news coverage and said, “I can honestly say that no democracy would allow this sort of thing that’s going on.”

How long the journalists will continue to suffer from severe stress due to financial crises as their employers are not paying them salaries for months? The media owners should be held accountable for their anti-worker policies and the tragedies resulting in the death of journalists under financial stress.

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The government should initiate legal action against the management of Capital TV, take away its license permanently and set an example for other channels. Dr. Fardous Ashiq Awan is a kind-hearted woman and she understands media matters should take responsibility to help clear all pending dues and salaries of journalists.

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Farooq Mirza is the president, 4th pillar - Vigilant Media Watchdog, Resident Editor, Daily Hotline & News USA, Columnist, writer and analytic. The author is based in NJ USA

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