KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has handed over a cheque of Rs50 million to Karachi Union of Journalists as endowment fund for the welfare of journalists.

Speaking on the occasion at Chief Minister House here Wednesday, he said that journalists have always remained in the forefront of the struggle for the rights of people, democracy and against dictators.

He said that the media, the fourth pillar of estate is active for the rights of people as well as performing its role as a watchdog over governments. Shah said the government takes the criticism of media with open mind and as an advice. “We welcome the media to pinpoint the mistakes of the government, but we also seek appreciation from media for our good work”, he added.

He assured support of the government to the journalists community to their genuine demands and added that the government also seeks a reciprocal response from the media. The Chief Minister said that the PPP under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari is following the guidelines of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for serving the masses.

He said that Rs70 billion have been given to women in Pakistan to make them successful entrepreneurs and start their own business. Information Minister Shazia Marri while paying rich tributes to journalists said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had always struggled along with journalist for press freedom.

She urged the newspapers and TV channels owners to respect the journalists as they are the asset of their organisations. “Your organisation is run by the journalists and they make your organisation prominent”, she noted. “I salute those journalists who produce investigative news reports and also for all their sacrifices for the cause of press freedom”, Ms Marri added.

She also paid special tribute to those departed journalists including Sabihuddin Ghausi who also fought against dictators along with political workers and leaders. The Minister said that journalists had created a new relationship by holding their function at Chief Minister House.

Earlier, central leader of KUJ and Editor Daily Express Tahir Najmi, secretary PFUJ Amin Yousuf, KUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary Fahim Siddiqui spoke on the occasion and said that the fund would be utilized for the welfare of journalists and their families.

They said that renowned retired judges of Supreme Court including Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, Justice (r) Bhagwan Das and Justice (r) Haziqul Khairi have been requested to come on the board to ensure transparency in the utilization of endowment fund.

PN rescues two fishing boats: Pakistan Navy aviation and surface units on Wednesday rescued two local fishing boats off Gwadar which were in distress at sea due to prevalent dust storms and rough conditions.

The prevailing adverse weather conditions took local fishing community off Gwadar by surprise and poor visibility coupled with rough seas left two fishing boats missing with eight personnel onboard.

Pakistan Navy promptly responded and deployed its surface ships and helicopter in response to call for help by local authorities, says a press release. Both boats had drifted about 30 to 40 Nautical Miles from the coast and lost communication with shore. Prompt action by PN units led to successful rescue operation. All eight crew members were rescued by PN helicopters and their boats towed by Navy Ship Babur to safe location to Gwadar harbour.