JournalismPakistan.com November 19, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Television anchor Matiullah Jan has questioned the process of scrutinizing the National Press Club (NPC) voters’ list and new membership.
In a letter to the secretary of NPC he expressed surprise at the sudden reopening of club membership. “You kept the membership closed throughout the year. While welcoming the grant of right of membership of the club to genuine journalists, Jago Group thinks that your announcement has effectively rendered your 15 Nov deadline for scrutiny of voters’ list as irrelevant…”
Mati ran for president of NPC but lost last year’s elections representing Jago Panel.
According to a post on NPC’s facebook page, NPC has opened the new membership. “Journalists (male and female) desirous of becoming member of the NPC can submit necessary information and fee by November 20, 2014.”
The criterion for becoming a NPC member includes five years’ experience in journalism, letter of the organization, official card of the organization, and CNIC copy along with Rs1200 fee.
For last year’s polls, NPC had 2704 council members who had the right to vote.
Mati, who hosts the talkshow Apna Apna Gareban on Waqt News, asked a number of questions about voters’ list and new membership, demanding “immediate answers”. The letter, according to Mati’s tweet was sent on November 14.
He wanted to know if the scrutiny will be done after the induction of new members. He wondered why the scrutiny has been delayed. “Why didn’t you start this fresh membership drive during the whole year so as to enable all concerned that the new members were properly scrutinized with regard to their professional credentials?”
Mati also feared that the grant of fresh membership “only a month before elections” will “give rise to the possibility of non-journalist and unprofessional elements hijacking the mandate of a professional body like NPC?”
He regretted that a “crowd of sales and marketing representatives (non-journalists) of various dailies and monthlies, apart from some government servants and private business owners” decide the fate of professional journalists through the NPC membership cards.
He also wanted to know “by what time the new membership drive will conclude and will the new members be able to vote in the forthcoming elections?”
He asked if the new membership cards will be given on the polling day as part of “your group’s electoral campaign which otherwise closes a day before? Your group had been doing the same in the previous elections which is highly unethical.”
Mati demanded Jago Group's representation on the committee to grant fresh memberships.
Currently the scrutiny committee of NPC is headed by Mohammad Aslam Dogar, and its members are Qurban Satti, and Afzal Javed.
Mati ended his letter by reminding the NPC secretary about NPC being beneficiary of taxpayers’ money “in the form of…grants from the government and billions of rupees worth of government land given to our press club members.” Alluding to article 19 (freedom of speech) of the constitution, Mati said journalists have to be transparent and honest in their work.
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