LAHORE: Women and religious minorities hardly participate in Pakistani politics. This is why their participation in the electoral process was desperately desired, to accord more legitimacy to the elections.
This was observed by speakers at an award ceremony here on Monday. Awards for the best performance were distributed at a ceremony “Journalists for Human Rights Award 2013”, for Promoting women and minority rights in the electoral process. The ceremony was jointly organised by Pakistan Federal Union for Journalists (PFUJ), Punjab Union of journalists (PUJ) and South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK).
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan secretary general I.A Rehman presided over the award ceremony whereas chief guests were PFUJ president Perwaiz Shaukat and PUJ president Rana Tariq Azeem.
Journalists who won the awards included Hussain Kashif (Daily Times), Arshad Bhatti (The Nation), Xari Jalil (Dawn) for English news stories, feature and surveys, Nousheen Naqvee (Dunya News), Abdul Salam Baitab (Voice of Pakistan Bannu), Chashman-I- Rabie (Hum Shehry), Ambreen Fatima (Daily Nawa-e-Waqt), Perveen Khan (Daily Express), Mansoor Mehdi (Nai Baat), Mohammad Akram Nasir (Bahawalpur) and Amir Sohail (FM 103) in Urdu news stories, features and surveys, magazine, special edition.
SAP-PK had consultations with journalist unions, PFUJ and PUJ, to support and highlight the safe political participation of women and minorities in Election 2013. A media campaign was designed to raise these issues in print and electronic media.
Journalists for Human Rights Awards 2013 was also announced as part of media campaign to engage journalists for socio-political change and to highlight issues of women and minority rights and the importance of their participation.
Journalists who wrote articles and news features on these issues were appreciated.
“All of us are here to celebrate the good efforts of journalists, who took a very keen interest to promote women and religious rights in the electoral process during the general elections 2013,” said Mohammad Tahseen, Executive Director of SAP-PK.
Tahseen said religion and culture are misused to limit participation of women. He also said that such efforts should be replicated in other cities such as Islamabad and Karachi.
“We salute the courage of these journalists who highlighted the agonies of vulnerable groups like women and minorities, who have hardly any say in this social set up,” he said.
I.A Rehman in his speech congratulated the journalists. He said the strong character of SAP-Pakistan, PFUJ and PUJ is evident from the fact that these organisations never stopped working even under martial law. He also called on the civil society organisations to come together and highlight the mistreatment of journalists.
Pervaiz Shaukat said that in Pakistan journalists suffer even though they are the voice of the most deprived sections of society.
Rana Tariq Azeem said that if people go on a long march or engage in any protest they can always count on SAP-Pakistan to provide them with banners and stickers.