Off-the-record threats to journalism in Sahiwal

A person having a minimum of 12 years of education with little experience can be registered as a member of the press club as per the charter of Sahiwal Press Club.

This charter was formed and implemented in 2005 for the first time. Many people who don’t even have any formal degree of education are registered with the club just to get benefits, said Aziz Goraya, president of Sahiwal press club.

Sahiwal city is a small division comprising three districts with over 3 million population, but there is no voice of journalists after the disclosure of a house of journalists.

The Sahiwal press club currently has three buildings, but only one of which is registered as a press club. The ‘only fight in the press club was a power fight’, nothing was done for journalists and journalism.

After a series of armed conflicts between journalists’ groups, in which some journalists were injured, the dominant group succeeded to lock it down,” said Syed Tumtraq Mahasan, president of Tumtraq Group of Journalists.

Violent incidents and FIRs of theft of goods from the press club were also registered in “city Police station” but no progress has been made so far. Heads of government agencies and Bureaucracy are far from this issue because these disputes keep journalists busy, in result the voice and problems of Sahiwal city are not reaching the rulers, he further added.

City press club and Division Sahiwal press clubs are private press clubs currently active in Sahiwal city.

Sahiwal press club having 60 plus males and only one female registered member is closed for any protest, press conferences and press club Elections from 2018.

“No journalistic organizations can intervene in this matter as the voice of journalists has been suppressed by the journalists themselves, by closing press club, PFUJ, or other Punjab based journalists’ organizations can only try to resolve the issue by talking to these groups,” said an official of RIUJ.

Shafqat Gillani was the active president when the press club closed and till now, a majority of journalists considered him the higher authority.

During Shafqat’s tenure, PML-N was the ruling party in Sahiwal as well as in Pakistan so he had full support of the PML-N leader, sources told.

PML-N won the seat in Sahiwal in 2018 but in Punjab PTI is a rolling party and all bureaucracy and government officials have influence of PTI members, according to the source this distribution of the power is the biggest reason for Press club closeness.

Private press club, especially the City press club, has close relationships with security agencies and police that is why this press club entertains all the official visits and coverage of any government gatherings, the source added.

“I got a heart attack and was shifted to Lahore for treatment, all this happened during this period .it was shocking for me as well as disturbing too because I always tried to resolve all the disputes between journalists’ groups as I believe press club is a house for journalists, Shafqat Gillani told. I am trying hard to convince all groups to sit together and resolve all disputes so that we can move towards new Election of Press club in coming December, he further added

 While trying to get the copies of FIR registered in City Police station Sahiwal as Tumtaraq told, Efforts are failed as Police is on the point that it’s an old record and we have enough updated work to do.

Chairman Press Club Sahiwal Goraya 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 degree, all those who fully support President Gillani.

Just after this Gillani went to court against this decision and amendment but Goraya won the case. Court decisions were the main reason for firing in the Press club and we closed the press club after this incident in November 2018.

“One FIR was registered after the theft of important goods; this FIR was lodged against unknown persons but so far no progress has been made. We have also registered a complaint on the Prime Minister Citizen portal which was sent to anticorruption on the relieved funds by the Government for the canteen but no progress was made but now work is in progress after getting the positive response from the anti-corruption department.

Canteen will be active within a month. Unfortunately, the press club has always been short of funds. We have all provided facilities here by ourselves, Goraya added

Goraya was the bureau chief of Daily “Pakistan” in Sahiwal.

He said, “Tumtaraq is a president of “divisional Press club in Sahiwal and according to our constitution if you are a member of registered press club you cannot carry or run any other press club in city.

We are in touch with Gillani and hope for the press club elections in December because as a journalist it is also a shameful thing whenever journalists from different cities or countries visit our city but find the press club closed.

 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 voice to government officials for their security and other benefits. Some are part of the city press club but it is not a registered press club and opened in a private office.

Press Club promotes the advancement of ethical journalism and invites a closer look at issues shaping journalism today. It also fosters fellowship among representatives of the media and those that they cover in fun and friendly settings and Sahiwal is missing all

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