Freedom of information law soon: Secretary -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Freedom of information law soon: Secretary

LAHORE: Federal Information Secretary Muhammad Akram Shaheedi has said that the media and the democracy are inevitable for each other and the government would take all necessary steps to ensure freedom of the press. He said that the federal government would introduce the new freedom of information law soon after it was approved by the cabinet.

He was talking to journalists here on Monday at a local hotel. He said that the government will formulate a code of conduct soon after consulting all stakeholders. CPNE President Arif Nizami and Majeebur Rehman Shami also spoke on the occasion and hailed the induction of Shaheedi as the federal secretary information.

He said his minister was mere a facilitator and had not any regulatory role. He maintained that the government had scrapped all previous Pemra laws and was preparing a bill adding the new law will replace the old law that about which the media men had expressed many reservations. He thanked journalists of the print and electronic media for attending his luncheon and said their reunion was a matter of pride for him. Muhammad Akram Shaheedi told he had been called back to Islamabad from Washington and taken as the secretary information. He said all this was due to the love the Lahori journalists had for him adding Lahore was his hometown.

He said in a democratic system the role of media is very important and the present government was committed to ensuring freedom of the press. He said the present government had scrapped old Pemra laws and had tabled a new bill which was still to become law of the land. He reminded that the present regime had provided all freedom to media and that was why all the anchor persons had returned to their channels and telecasting their views and programmes accordingly. He said there were 60/70 television channels and the people were enjoying good competition among them. He said he was of the view that both the media and the democracy were interlinked.

Referring to the Code of Conduct for the media, Shaheedi said the government was in contact with all the relevant stakeholders and pointed out that the media men had expressed their various reservations on the old Freedom of Information Act 2002 which according to him had many lacunas. He said in the previous Freedom of Information Act the government functionaries were supposed to supply information to the media men but this law became ineffective as the spokesman or concerned representatives of the governmental departments were not in a position to supply necessary information to the media men as early as possible or as per expectation of the journalists/reporters thus this factor alone made it infructuous.

President CPNE Arif Nizami while welcoming his appointment as federal secretary information said the Geo private television had made a serious complaint of its victimization and that in case they did not change their policy about lawyers’ ongoing movement for restoration of the deposed judges their telecast may be banned again. He further said that it was wrong that the federal information ministry had not regulatory role and it was only a facilitator between media and the government. Nizami said the present regime had not yet withdrawn some measures that had been taken against print media whereas all the offending steps taken against electronic media had been recalled or withdrawn by the present government.
Source: The Nation
Date:5/20/2008