‘Govt committed to freedom of media’
ISLAMABAD, May 13: Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sherry Rehman Tuesday said the government was committed to freedom of media and whenever PPP came into power in the past it always made policies in favour of free media.
“It was also dream of our great leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to protect and ensure provision of rights of journalists and this government will stick to its objective to facilitate media,” she said while speaking at a function organized jointly by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) here to pay tributes to those journalists who struggled and sacrificed for freedom of media during 1977 Martial Law.
Paying tributes to the struggle of journalists, she said: “May 13 every year reminds us the day when journalists were lashed 30 years ago during Marshal Law regime of General Ziaul Haq”.
On the issue of wage award, she said, “this needs joint collaboration of owners, journalists and representatives of civil society”, adding that a tripartite conference would be convened next month to get this issue resolved amicably.
She said on assumption of office, the very first action of the present government was to initiate the process to withdraw restrictions against media. She added that any threat to media would be condemned and blamed the previous government for framing black laws against the media.
“It was Pemra which was a regulatory body and was misused to control media, but PPP-led government is in process to make it a supporting and facilitating body,” she added.
PPP is committed to construct monument in remembrance of those media men who was lashed 30 years ago, she said, adding, we should learn lesson from 1978 tragedy.
Journalists, Sherry said, were given free hand in all tenure of PPP. She sought cooperation of media and recommendations of media men for the implementation of wage award.
PPP believes in freedom of expression and would not impose any restriction on media, she vowed.
Speaking on the occasion, Leader of the House in Senate, Raza Rabbani said the PPP’s resolve to restore the pre-November 3 judiciary should not be doubted. He said both PPP and PML-N have no differences over the restoration of the judiciary. The disagreement between the two parties might be on the methodology, he said, adding this would be resolved through dialogue in the days to come.
He said being a responsible government that is answerable to the public, the PPP would take along all its partners.
He also supported the idea of giving constitutional protection to freedom of media.
PML-N leader, MNA Javed Hashmi supported freedom of media and said the democratic government has come into existence as a result of sacrifices rendered by journalists.
“Today we should make a pledge to collectively work for the betterment of the country and remove all the obstacles in the way of freedom of media,” he added.
Former Federal Minister, J. Salik, Secretary General, PFUJ, Mazhar Abbas, RIUJ president, Afzal Butt, senior journalists Nasir Zaidi, who was flogged in 1978, and Mustansar Javed, Ishfaq Babar, Iqbal Jafri and others also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the problems being faced by the mediapersons in discharging their duties..