‘Govt devising mechanism to protect journalists’
* Prime minister asks journalists to express their opinion without fear or favour
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday said that the government was devising an institutional mechanism to protect journalists from violence and threats.
“It is the top priority of the government to resolve the problems of the working journalists,” Gilani stated at the concluding session of a conference entitled “Attacks on Journalists and Freedom of Media”.The government desires that journalists should express their opinion without fear or favour and it would continue to improve working conditions of the media persons, the prime minister assured the participants of the conference.
Elaborating the government’s policy about the media, Gilani said that his government exhibited exceptional respect for media freedom in plurality of views. “Since the PPP-led government believes in the empowerment of people, we will ensure that citizens’ right to know is preserved at all costs,” he added.
“We have never believed in the culture of press advice, censorship and control of content or information and all of you are witness to the fact that the democratic government has never stifled media freedom,” the prime minister asserted, saying that no journalist, poet or writer has been put behind bars for opposing the government’s policies nor have any restrictions been imposed on TV channels or newspapers.
He said that the democratic government was providing maximum facilities to journalists especially, in the form of grants in aid and financial assistance to press clubs and journalists. In case of journalists falling victim to terrorism, he said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting provides financial assistance to the families of the victims. The ministry also provides funds for the education of the children of such victims and also announced plots for the victims of terrorism.
He claimed that the government had made utmost efforts to provide security to the media persons and protect the lives of journalists and their families but in the wake of the acts of terrorism, there had been unfortunate incidents. He assured that government would not spare any culprit who was involved in the killing of media persons. “We are committed to dispense justice to the journalists killed in the line of duty or got disabled,” he added.
On journalist Saleem Shehzad, who was brutally murdered, Gilani said that the government had established a Judicial Commission to investigate the murder. “This commission is working with full facilitation from the government. The findings are still awaited. I can assure you that all necessary measures will be taken to implement the recommendations of the commission,” he said. He said that capacity building of media was also on the agenda of the government and efforts were underway for training of journalists for reporting in the conflict zones.
“The Ministry of Information will extend the maximum support to arrange training courses for journalists in conflict reporting in collaboration with their employers,” he added.
Source: Daily Times