APNS criticizes information ministry
KARACHI – The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has expressed its concern at what it calls the increased hostility of the federal information ministry towards the press.
The APNS executive committee which met on June 1 under the chairmanship of Mr. Arif Nizami noted in a statement the deterioration in press-government relations and said “back-door” attempts were being made by the information ministry to circumvent Article 19 that guaranteed freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
The agenda for major amendments to the Freedom of Information Ordinance and the Defamation Ordinance had been kept pending by the present information minister in an attempt to undermine the role of the press as a watchdog of citizens’ rights.
The executive committee also noted that the ministry had not only embarked on the policy of using advertisements as a lever against certain newspapers, including the Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation, but was also trying to curb press freedom through a plethora of press advices.
The APNS reiterated that it had always advocated deregulation and decentralization of government advertisements. The APNS statement referred to remarks by Federal Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad in the National Assembly regarding wage board matters and said these were meant to mislead parliamentarians and the public at large by deliberately distorting facts.
The APNS clarified that its petition in the Supreme Court was not rejected but dismissed as it could not invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Further, to state that the wage board issue was discussed by the minister with the APNS and the CPNE was “a travesty of facts” as no dialogue on the matter had ever taken place with the minister.
On the contrary, before Sheikh Rashid was inducted as minister, the information ministry had supported the APNS point of view. The executive committee decided not to participate in any meeting with the information ministry “until it amends its attitude towards the APNS”. The members also decided to apprise the president and prime minister on the present state of affairs.
The executive committee condemned the administrative action of the Sindh government in banning five Karachi-based evening newspapers without going through the process as prescribed in the press laws concerned.