Sahiwal: Any individuals with a minimum of 12 years of education and some experience can become members of the club, according to the charter of the Sahiwal Press Club.
However, the president of the club, Aziz Goraya, has stated that many people who lack formal education have registered with the club just to gain benefits. Sahiwal city, which is home to over 3 million people, has no voice of journalists due to various issues.
Sahiwal Press Club has three buildings, but only one of them is registered as a press club. The club has been plagued by power struggles, leading to armed conflicts between journalists’ groups.
As a result, the club has been closed for any protest, press conferences, and press club elections since 2018. No journalistic organization can intervene in this matter, as the voice of journalists has been suppressed by the journalists themselves.
Shafqat Gillani was the active president when the press club closed, and till now, a majority of journalists considered him the higher authority. PML-N was the ruling party in Sahiwal during Shafqat’s tenure, and he had the full support of the party leader.
However, PTI is now the ruling party in Punjab, which has caused a distribution of power that is the primary reason for the press club’s closure.
The private press club, particularly the City press club, has close relationships with security agencies and police, which is why it covers all official visits and government gatherings. Goraya, the chairman of the Press Club, has the keys to the press club.
The fight started when he cancelled the registration of members who were not practicing members and did not even have 12 years of educational degrees. All those who fully supported President Gillani went to court against this decision, but Goraya won the case. Court decisions were the main reason for the firing in the Press club, and it was closed after this incident in November 2018.
Unfortunately, the press club has always been short of funds. Facilities have been provided by the members themselves. Efforts to get the copies of FIR registered in City Police Station Sahiwal have failed, as the police claim it’s an old record, and they have enough updated work to do.
However, there has been some progress after a complaint was registered on the Prime Minister Citizen Portal, which was sent to the anticorruption department regarding the relieved funds by the government for the canteen. The canteen is expected to be active within a month.
Sahiwal has different digital divisional web TV and Facebook pages for news alerts, but many journalists do not have any governing authority to address their problems and raise their voice to government officials for their security and other benefits.
The press club is crucial for promoting ethical journalism and fostering fellowship among representatives of the media and those they cover. Sahiwal is currently missing out on these vital aspects. It is hoped that the press club elections will take place in December, as it is a matter of shame for the city when visiting journalists find the press club closed.