Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) rejects draft ordinance on freedom of information
KARACHI: The Standing Committee of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors rejected the draft ordinance on freedom of information presented by the Federal Information Minister for eliciting opinion and recommendation from the public.
Meeting under the chairmanship of its President Arif Nizami in Karachi, the CPNE standing committee opined that release of draft ordinance on freedom of information was a violation of the agreement reached between the CPNE and APNS on the one hand and federal government in the Ministry of Information that press council ordinance, the freedom of information ordinance and registration of printing presses and publications ordinance would be promulgated by the government as a package in agreement with the CPNE and the APNS.
It was regretted that this agreement was not adhered to and a draft ordinance on freedom of information was released for eliciting public opinion and amendments, if any, though the present draft ordinance lacked in content and effectiveness the provisions incorporated in the freedom of Information ordinance of the caretaker government’s minister for law Fakhruddin G Ibrahim which was promulgated but allowed to lapse by Nawaz Sharif government.
In view of the fact that the present draft ordinance did not meet with the hopes and aspirations of the CPNE on freedom of information and access to information, the meeting of the standing committee rejected the ordinance and decided to submit its own draft ordinance on press freedom of information, providing easier access to information to the public and specially to the press. The meeting decided that the alternate draft be readied at the earliest and submitted to the government by the CPNE.
Those who took part in the discussion on the draft ordinance on information included Syed Fasiah Iqbal, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Zia Shahid, Inquilab Matri and Kazi Asad Abid.
The meeting also considered reply from the government on the CPNE draft on the formation of the Press Council of Pakistan. In a clause-wise review of the government reply to the different articles of the CPNE draft of the Press Council of Pakistan, Mahmudul Aziz read out CPNE along draft along with government replies to the different clauses on which later a detailed discussion took place. It was agreed that CPNE and APNS submissions on the subject of size and membership of Press Council of Pakistan, including representation of different press bodies and the public as also NG0s be sorted out in a joint meeting of presidents of the CPNE and the APNS along with members of the drafting committee of the bodies, which prepared Press Council draft legislation.
Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman submitted that formation of the press council with broader representation would serve better the interests of both the newspapers as also of democratic practice thus benefiting the country.
Other members who took part in the discussion included Zia Shahid, Mujib-ur Rahman Shami, Inquilab Matri, Anwar Farooqui, Kazi Asad Abid, Mahmudul Aziz, Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Syed Fasih lqbal. It was agreed that the two presidents of the CPNE and the APNS should convene a meeting of the two drafting committees, jointly, at the earliest and finalise the matter.
The meeting also considered cases of rising violence against journalists in Sindh province and decided to constitute a committee of the standing committee to look into reports, visit respective district headquarters in Sindh province, discuss with provincial authorities the situation, seek proper protection for newsmen and newspapers, especially in interior of Sindh and report back to the standing committee on progress made in this direction.
The committee as approved by the standing committee includes Mahmudul Aziz, Kazi Asad Abid, Kazi Aslam, Sajjad Mir and representative from Jang to be nominated by Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The meeting also took note of submission by Millat daily that it had been discriminated in respect of all advertising from Sindh Information Department since almost four months. The meeting deplored all attempt to use advertising as a lever against newspapers and called for an immediate end to this discrimination.
The meeting was, attended, by Syed Fasih Iqbal (Balochistan Times), Inquilab Matri (Millat), Mahmudul Aziz (Pictorial News Review), Altaf Hussain Qureshi (Urdu Digest), Abdul Rasheed Ghazi (Business Report), Wiqar Yousuf Azeemi (Roohani Digest), Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (Jang), Aslam Kazi (Kawish), Mujibur Rahman Shami (Pakistan), Sajjad Mir (Nawa-i-Waqt), Mustafa Sadiq (Wifaq), Mushtaq Ahmed Qureshi (Nawa-i-Nawabshah), Najmuddin Shaikh (Diyanat), Pir Sufaid Shah (Wahdat), Anwar Farooqui (Aghaz), Zia Shahid (Khabrain) while Arif Hussain Nizami, presided.
Source: The News