APNS terms Papra draft bill a draconian law
KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) termed the draft bill of the Press and Publication Regulatory Authority (Papra) as a draconian law and vowed to strongly resist all efforts designed to strangulate the press and resolved to protect the achievements of the protracted struggle of media-men for press freedoms in the country, the APNS spokesman said. APNS Secretary General Kazi Asad Abid has announced on Tuesday the resolution and decisions taken at the APNS executive committee meeting, held on December 18 at Lahore under the chairmanship of its Senior Vice President Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami.
The members of the Executive Committee attended from across the country and flayed the federal government on its ulterior efforts to impose Pemra-like organisation on the print-media in the name of Papra. The members resolved that the newspaper industry would not surrender to the dictates of the establishments as it is not a nascent industry but a matured and experienced media that has fought a long battle to achieve press freedoms. The APNS executive committee having gone through clause-wise reading and analysis, has outright rejected the efforts of the federal government to revive the notorious Press and Publication Ordinance, 1963, in the name of the proposed regulatory body.
It noted that the draft bill is not related to the audit of circulation as claimed by the ministry of information, but mainly aimed at regulating the press, news agencies, and advertising agencies. It intends to negate the provincial autonomy as well as devolution of powers to district government, while proposing registration of declaration by the federal government-controlled authority. The proposed bill granted the proposed authority, sweeping powers to inspect and raid printing presses and offices of publications, news agencies, and advertising agencies for on the spot checking of records and accounts and also imposed heavy penalty up to Rs 1 million and imprisonment up to three years.
The Committee noted that the draft bill was circulated among government departments and provinces as far back as March 2006, but the organisations relating to newspaper industry were completely kept in dark.
It noted that it would brave the bureaucratic move to curb press freedoms and impose a draconian law on the print-media. It hoped that all human right organisations would strongly reject this black law and safeguard the democratic norms and basic rights as enshrined in the United Nation Charter as well as in the Constitution of Pakistan. Later, a meeting of APNS Distribution & Retail Marketing Committee was held under its Convenor Arif Nizami. The Committee was attended by Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Khushnood Ali Khan, Khawaja Kaleem Ahmed, Syed Sarmad Ali, Jamil Ather, Kazi Asad Abid, Wasim Ahmed, and Mustafa Sadiq.
It considered in detail the working of the Retail Cover Price formula adopted earlier by the APNS and formed a sub-committee to re-examine the formula in view of the new condition. The Committee was assigned to standardise and streamline the commission to news agents end hawkers across the country.
The Committee expressed its concern over the unauthorised strike by hawkers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and considered it a hostile action against the APNS. It unanimously resolved that in future, any such action against any member publication would be taken as a serious threat to all members and collective measures will be adopted.
It also considered the feasibility of alternative newspaper distribution system and decided to invite concrete suggestions from members of the Society in order to finalise its recommendations at its next meeting.
The executive committee considered the applications for accreditation approved grant of provisional accreditation to the Adetude (Pvt) Ltd Islamabad; the SB&B Advertising, Lahore; and the Velocity Marketing & Communications (Pvt) Ltd, Lahore. It also approved the requests of the Ablaze Communications, Karachi; the Concept One (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi; the Manhill Advertising, Karachi, the International Advertising (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi; and the Adarts Karachi (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi; for regularisation the changes in their companies structure.
APNS Sr. Vice President Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Secretary-General Kazi Asad Abid, Joint Secretary Masood Hamid, Mumtaz A. Tahir (Daily Aftab), Faisal Shahjehan (Daily Ausaf), Waseem Ahmed (Daily Awam, Quetta), Dr Jabbar Khattak (Daily Awami Awaz), Asif A. Zuberi (D/Business Recorder), Abdul Rashid Ghazi (D/Business Report), Syed Faseih Iqbal (D/Balochistan Times), Syed Sarmad Ali, (Daily Jang), Sharif Farooq (Daily Jihad), Zia Shahid (D/Khabrain), Syed Sajjad Bokhari (D/Musawat), Arif Nizami (D/Nawa-i-Waqt/The Nation), S.M. Munir Jillani (D/Paigham), Ilyas Shakir (D/Qaumi Akhbar), Waqar Yousuf Azeemi (M/Roohani Digest), Khushnood Ali Khan (D/Sahafat), Riaz Ahmed Mansuri (M/The Cricketer), Jamil Athar (D/Tijarat, Sargodha), and Mustafa Sadiq (D/Wafiq) attended the APNS executive committee meeting. Hameed Haroon of Dawn Group and Professor S.B. Hassan of Monthly Investment & Marketing attended the meeting as special invitees.