AHMEDPUR EAST-The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) expressed grave concerns over failure of the Pakistani government to inform the UNESCO director general about legal proceedings of murder cases of the journalists assassinated in the line of duty.

The RMNP highlighted the grave situation in a unanimous resolution passed in the concluding ceremony of two-day Bahawalpur District Correspondents Safety of Journalists Training Workshop. The workshop was organised by the RMNP in collaboration with DCMF.

The workshop was held in a local hotel and was chaired by Dr Sajjad Ahmed Paracha, chairman Media Studies Department Islamia University Bahawalpur. Prince Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi was the chief guest on the occasion.

Through the resolution, the participants demanded the Pakistani government to fulfil its obligations regarding safety of journalists as it is a signatory to the UN General Assembly. They also demanded the government to provide safe environment for working journalists.

Addressing the ceremony, RMNP President Ehsan Ahmed Sehar said that despite difficult circumstances under which many journalists work, significant steps have been taken to counter violence against journalists through the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists. He said that the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council and UNESCO had adopted 12 resolutions related to the safety of journalists. He informed the participants that a multi-stakeholder consultation to review implementation of the UN Plan of Action had taken place in 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, leading to 30 forward-looking options for action to be considered by the UN, Member States, regional intergovernmental organisations, civil society, media workers, internet intermediaries and academia.

Chief guest Prince Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi in his presidential address demanded all the political and religious parties devise a code of ethics for their party workers before the forthcoming elections. He also demanded the parties educate their workers to respect freedom of expression and must follow code of ethics.

He stressed the need for the security of the mediamen, and their equipment, covering political processions and rallies. “Recent events depict that journalists have to face untoward situations from workers of various political parties while covering public meetings,” he regretted. He urged the media houses to provide bullet proof jackets to media workers for their safety in the field. “A journalist must be provided all requisite facilities and security measures before being sent to cover a disputed or dangerous assignment,” he maintained. He appreciated the efforts of RMNP, DCMF and UNESCO for imparting training to correspondents of remote areas in rural Pakistan.

Prince Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi stressed upon the government functionaries and media groups to provide safety to the journalist community as they received threats from mafias. Later, he distributed certificates to 17 participants of the workshop, working for print and electronic media organisations.

Deputy Director Information Bahawalpur Nasar Hameed, District Information Officer Nauman Masood Khan, Prof Shehzad Ahmed Khan and Dr Sajjad Ahmed Paracha also addressed the ceremony.

A five-member press freedom monitoring committee headed by senior journalist Rafique Safdar Rajput was also announced by RMNP in this ceremony.