KARACHI - The speakers at a capacity building workshop have termed that economic and social exploitation in shape of bonded labour has always been the grey area particularly in poor and third world states. However, social and economic rights of the exploited working classes could be ensured only through joint efforts from all stakeholders including government, society, NGOs and media. The moot was organised by International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the topic of "Role of Media in Eradication of Bonded Labour in Pakistan" on Saturday in a local hotel which was participated by ministers, government officials, mediamen and leaders of trade unions. Addressing the workshop Provincial Minister for Information Shazia Marri, as chief guest, acknowledged that bonded labour in the society has always been the grey area of the country's economy. The bonded labourers are being exploited while the major share of the profit goes to their employers, which is against the law of the land. However, she said that the provincial government is making all-out efforts to ensure social justice to the exploited classes of the society. She pointed out since poverty, high cost of living, illiteracy and the capitalist system are the root causes of debt bondage and forced labour practices, it is binding on all the stakeholders including the government and media to strengthen their coordination so that this social menace is discouraged on all levels. "Media can play a vibrant role by highlighting the negative effects of bonded labour and its related issues," he remarked. Earlier, giving briefing about holding this workshop, Senior Programme Officer, ILO Saifullah Chaudhry, explained that the event was part of the ILO's countrywide initiative meant for professional capacity building of media persons regarding the sensitive issues particularly bonded labour. Quoting the statistics victims of forced labour in the world, he informed that total 12.3 million people falls in forced labour category while out of them a majority of 9.5 million victims of forced labour are in South Asia and Pacific region. ILO programme officer quoting the Asian Development Bank's survey of bonded labour pointed out that the number of bonded labourers in Pakistan is 1.8 million people but the PILER and other civil society rejecting these statistics had termed that the number of bonded labourers are much more than the prescribed figures of ADB. The ILO official revealed that bonded labour has emerged as a critical issue which is negatively affecting the working class on social and economic fronts. According to him, only collective efforts on the part of government, society and media are direly needed to discourage this illegal practice and ensure social and economic justice for the bonded labourers. He linked poverty, high cost of living, illiteracy and the capitalist system to the rising trend of debt bondage and forced labour practices and said that unless we focus on these factors it would not be possible to eliminate this vice. Assistant Director of Labour Department, government of Sindh, Ather Ali Shah said the bonded labour persists in Sindh and Sindh government was taking measurers to eliminate this menace. He disclosed that labour department repeatedly written guidelines to district government for forming of vigilance committees aiming to control the bonded labour in Sindh but the district governments have not responded it positively. Senior columnist Javed Chaudhry said that media was considered the fourth pillar of a state. "Major responsibility lies with the media as it is professionally bound to create awareness about certain issues, play a suggestive role on national issues and present the true picture of the happenings with a positive approach. He urged the media persons to guide opinion makers and also sensitise the public as well as other stakeholders so that they could pool up their efforts for the eradication of bonded labour from the society. Later, an open debate was conducted to raise various aspects of the bonded labour. A number of suggestions were also forwarded on the occasion to effectively control this illegal practice.