Freedom of expression has positive impact on democracy: Musharraf -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Freedom of expression has positive impact on democracy: Musharraf

RAWALPINDI: A three-member fact-finding mission of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) met President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday and termed the media environment in the country as open, positive and forward-looking.

Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary who is leading the delegation, told the president here at his Camp Office that the expansion and openness of the media had a positive impact on democracy.

The Brussels-based IFJ is the world’s largest organisation of media persons.

President Musharraf, during his recent four-nation visit to Europe, had invited the IFJ to Pakistan to see for themselves the ground reality about freedom of media in the country.

Aidan White termed his visit to Pakistan productive and said he found that the media in the country was enjoying freedom.

“I see openness and optimism in Pakistan, which has been encouraged by you,” White told President Musharraf while acknowledging his contribution for freedom of press in the past eight years.

He also spoke about the issues of safety and security of journalists and the need for having a national dialogue on ethical journalism.

President Musharraf agreed with the delegation on the need for a dialogue on ethical journalism in the country and said it was a vital requirement.

The president said despite various issues, he would continue to look forward to openness and freedom of expression as he believed that it will have a positive impact on democracy in the country.

The other two members of delegation included Sunanda Deshapriya from Sri Lanka, who also represents International News Safety Institute, and Mike Dobbie, from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance in Australia.

First established in 1926, the federation represents around 600,000 members in more than 120 countries.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Minister for Information Nisar A Memon here on Saturday assured his full support to the visiting three-member delegation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) towards their Ethical Journalism Initiative (EJI).

The assurance was extended by the minister during his meeting with the delegation, led by Aidan White of Ireland and comprising Sunanda Deshapriya and Michael Dobbie of Sri Lanka and Australia, respectively.

The IFJ is one of the largest media organisations, based in Brussels, said a press release, adding that the primary objective of IFJ delegation’s visit was to encourage reform of media policy and to support a new dialogue among the authorities, journalists and civil society.

The initiative for ethical journalism taps into a growing realisation within the media about the need to set standards and to improve quality.

The EJI is a campaign and programme of activity developed by journalists and media professionals by bringing together different partners.

The initiative is launched as journalism adjusts to challenges of reporting in an increasingly-polarized world characterised by religion, culture, language and ethnicity and the overriding need to raise inter-cultural and ethnic understanding.

Nisar said the West pursued its interests and to achieve its own goals by combating the Soviet Union, which had earlier occupied Afghanistan.

He said that the Cold War was in fact a clash of their respective interests irrespective of its fallout on other countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Extremism and terrorism which are today major security concerns of the world are the by-products of this phenomenon and had their disastrous impact on journalism, the minister added.

The minister expressed his willingness to participate in such a forum in the interest of evolving ethical and quality journalism in the country.

He said that IFJ’s suggestions for confidence-building measures to address various problems facing the media in general and the journalist community in particular required serious consideration.

These measures include reform of media policy, improvement of working conditions and payment of adequate remuneration to journalists, measures to reduce risk factors underlying their professional pursuit and proper training of media personnel.

The meeting was attended, inter alia, by senior officials of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and representatives of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
Source: The News
Date:3/16/2008