Amended Pemra law criticised
ISLAMABAD (November 03 2009): The Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) bill 2008 reflects mala fide intent of the government and is designed to curb freedom of expression and control the free press in the country. Prominent journalist and security analyst Nasim Zehra said on Monday that journalists were being punished for telling the truth, however, no brutality could pressurise the media, which had rendered countless sacrifices in promoting the truth in the past.
“The intention of the government seems to keep people away from access to free information and wants them to believe what they are saying is the truth and nothing else,” she remarked. She said that the amendment bill sought to impose the very same clauses as those promulgated by the Musharraf regime to extend his one-man rule.
“The amendment in Pemra bill and the PPP regime’s immediate and violent clampdown on media freedom is a reminder that media transparency is one of the greatest threats to the autocratic regimes,” she said. Hamid Mir, a news anchor and terrorism expert, said that the media followed the path of truth and fought with the dictator for freedom of expression for eight long years and finally he was forced to leave the office through concerted efforts of the media.
“We are prepared to face people, who returned to the country through secret deals which is a black spot on the face of so-called democracy in the country,” he said. Executive Director of Aaj News, Syed Talat Hussain strongly flayed the government’s attempt to impose control on the press. “The government has brought back all the controversial clauses, introduced by former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf in 2007. Under the garb of amendments in Pemra Ordinance 2007, Musharraf wanted to empower Pemra and the PPP is going the same route,” he added.
He said that the government was introducing the Pemra (Amendment) bill 2008 at a time when nation-wide debate was continuing on the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The amendment only aimed at harassing the media and protects the NRO, he said. He said the Pemra should be an independent body, having equal private and public sector representation to translate the aspirations of the people regarding free media into reality.
Source: Business Recorder