Wednesday Aug 18, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the perception that Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) will curtail freedom of media, Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Hussain Tuesday said that anything against the media in the PMDA would be changed if pointed out by any of the stakeholders, according to a report published in The News.
Addressing a press conference following a cabinet meeting, held here on Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, Fawad said if there was anything against the media in the PMDA, the concerned should inform about it and it would be changed.
The comments from the minister came after a joint media body rejected the proposed authority and declared it a “draconian attempt” by the government to muzzle the press.
“So far, not a single institution has commented on such a proposal, saying that such a clause was against the freedom of the media,” he added.
“Simply saying that it is against the freedom of the media is not appropriate,” the minister said.
Fawad Chaudhry said the Senate committee had suggested that the advertisements of the media outlets, which were not paying their salaries, should be stopped.
Responding to a question, the information minister invited concrete suggestions from stakeholders for improving the PMDA.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib Tuesday described the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) criticism of the PMDA as unfounded. He said the consultative process on the PMDA framework was underway.
In a news release, he said there would be no restriction on media freedom with the establishment of the PMDA.
He said all the media forums including All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), press clubs and other stakeholders had been made part of the consultative process.
All stakeholders promised full support on the steps that would ensure journalists and media workers’ job security and on-time salaries and regulation of digital media, he added.
Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, while rejecting the PMDA, termed it a violation of articles 18, 19 and 19-A of the Constitution and said it is a clear reflection that the present government seeks to impose a fascist rule in Pakistan.
“The ‘Pakistan Media Development Authority’ is a draconian law and surpasses the Press & Publication Ordinance, 1960 and subsequent martial law regulations promulgated from time to time under military rule so the PMDA is rejected,” he said.
Rabbani said this is the blackest of black laws with a deliberate intent of crushing the media and all voices of dissent.
“This, along with the attack on academic freedom, students and intelligentsia, is a clear reflection that the present government seeks to impose a fascist rule in Pakistan,” he said.
The joint committee of media organisations comprising the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) have unanimously rejected the government efforts to establish the PMDA.
“The recently-circulated minutes of the meeting between the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and these organisations are misleading and have been purposefully distorted to give the impression that there was no serious objection to PMDA,” says a statement issued by the joint committee of media organisations.
The statement reads, “All representatives were unanimous in rejecting PMDA draft,” adding that the ministry was continuously trying to give the impression that sections of the media fraternity were supporting the ministry on the draconian attempt to muzzle the press. This should be stopped immediately."
It added that the joint committee was planning to call all human rights groups, bar associations, members of parliament and other sections of civil society to join hands in stopping this outrageous move by the incumbent government to impose further curbs on media.