Zardari assures withdrawal of Pemra ordinance -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zardari assures withdrawal of Pemra ordinance

ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday assured that the PPP government would withdraw the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Ordinance, including recent amendments, and said that the access to information and freedom of the media would be top priority of the government of his party.

“We will make it mandatory that every decision of the government is discussed thoroughly in parliament in the presence of the media before finalising and implementing any policy,” he said while talking to a delegation of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) led by its President Afzal Butt here at Zardari House.

PPP Vice-Chairman Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, Punjab president Shah Mehmud Qureshi, Information Secretary Sherry Rehman and Secretary-General Raja Pervez Ashraf were also present on the occasion.

The RIUJ delegation put forward a dozen proposals and recommendations for press freedom to which Zardari agreed in principle.

The proposals include withdrawal of the Pemra ordinance, implementation of Wage Board Award, appointment of a senior journalist as head of Pemra, review of amendments to the defamation law of previous assembly, abolition of any no-go area for journalists, especially Wana and other such areas for TV journalists.

Asif Ali Zardari also agreed to minimise the role of government in the functioning of Pemra and assured to make it an autonomous regulatory body. “There should be a Press Council to be formed with the mutual consultation of owners, editors and working journalists to listen any address complaints of the aggrieved parties,” he added.

Zardari said the PPP wanted to strengthen institutions, including the parliament and the media. “Open discussion, constructive and positive criticism by the media is its fundamental right which will be ensured by the government,” he added.

He said the first step for the freedom of press was taken by the government of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto which started the service of CNN and BBC in Pakistan, which paved way for electronic media.

Referring to freedom of information, he said, a bill is already pending in the Senate moved by the PPP and we will try for its early passage by the parliament.

He asked the media to monitor and follow the performance of each and every minister, as this would improve their performance.

Zardari said government and media are integral partners in a democratic system and both have to work together for strengthening democratic institutions.

He said the working of the government and each ministry would be open for every one through web page and it would be easy for the press to evaluate the performance of the government. Zardari said he is committed that wage board award should be implemented and assured the journalists that he would talk with the owners on this issue for its implementation in an appropriate manner. He also agreed that working journalists should be allowed to go in any area including Wana with provision of adequate security to them.
Source: The News
Date:2/29/2008