Locked Press Clubs in Narowal : A Reflection of Yellow Journalism
Locked Press Club in Narowal

Narowal (Saba Chaudhary): The press club in Narowal district was established in 1998  by the district government at Kachehri road. It was re-constructed in 2013 with the help of Punjab Government. A heavy amount was spent on the buildings and infrastructure. Huge promises were made, journalists would do better for Narowal district, but unfortunately, today the closed doors and locks to press clubs in Narowal have forced many journalists to stay away from learning and sharing.

The shut-down of press club building in Narowal has also deprived many journalists of the ability to gather on a specific platform. Today, there are about 12 press clubs in Narowal, each with their own agenda. Nobody wants to talk, and nobody wants to open the doors of the press club for opposing parties as well as general public.

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Narowal is home of more than 1.709M people. Three press clubs are registered in Narowal city including national press club, District press club and Narowal press club, and all others are non-registered. However, once-a-year journalists gathers and selects the previous president who remains in this position for years.

According to the president of the national press club Narowal Abdul Haq, “Anyone who is associated with print and electronic media can get membership of their press club, and currently there are about 25 senior journalists who are members of the national press club”. However, he didn’t share the constitution of Narowal press club. Abdul Haq also admits that they never received any kind of funding from anyone for their press club.

He explained, “Everybody is doing their own work, so nobody has time to open or sit in the press club. ‘’We will give keys of the press club to anyone who wants to work there but we cannot allow the opposite parties to enter this press club. We cannot make the press club functional properly because we are living in a small city’’.

Shakargarh Press Club

Similarly, the Shakargarh Press Club was built with the help of government funding in the biggest Tehsil of Narowal. In 2013, it was reconstructed, and a heavy amount was spent on construction and infrastructure. Anyhow, the press club of Shakargarh also never remained functional. The current president of Shakargarh press club Dilshad Shareef says “there is no specific reason for the closing of the press club; the only reason is that everyone who has a membership in the press club is doing their business and nobody has time for the press club. This is the only reason the press club has been closed or non-functional for years. Dilshad Shareef admitted they never received any funding for the press club Shakargarh.. He says Shakargarh is a small city, and press clubs in small cities cannot remain functional.

Manzoor Hussain, a reporter of Geo News and member of the current body of shakrgarh press club, said, they do not have the constitution of the press club Shakargarh because it was built more than 20 years ago, and they never think of updating it. Manzoor thinks, ‘’ opening press club in Narowal is not the biggest issue or national issue of the country and there are more issues in the city important than this. ‘’We have about 40 members and our President Dilshad is our forever president of the press club shakargarh’’.

More talks, No Implementation

On the other hand, Deputy Commission Narowal told in response to an RTI that “no funding has been issued to any press club in Narowal from January 2018 to December 2022.’’

According to a local journalist Zahid, recently on 1st August a meeting with DC Narowal and District information department officers was held in Narowal where about 2 million rupees have been granted to all press clubs of Narowal including registered and non-registered.

1 million for Narowal press clubs and 0.5 million for shakargarh press clubs and 0.5 million for Zafarwal Tehsil press clubs.

Muhammad Abid 55 years old is associated with Dawn Newspaper from Narowal and an investigative Journalist told “there are lobbies dominated by press clubs in Narowal who workers of political parties are also. The government has spent lots of money on the press club building of Narowal. Abid has worked for thirty years in journalism, but he still doesn’t have membership of Narowal press club. He clarifies that “The press information department should not register more than 1 press club in one city because only this way all journalists can sit and resolve their issues.

The newly appointed Press information department (PID) officer in Narowal Waqas Naqvi said, government cannot do anything about the closure of press clubs or why they are nonfunctional. Press clubs are the home of journalists, and it is their job to keep it functional or non-functional. He clarified “it is the job of journalists to sit and resolve their issues. Government cannot do anything about it”.

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