Zardari denies crackdown on media -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zardari denies crackdown on media

LONDON: PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari on Monday underlined that the government believes in the freedom of the press and no strategy has been chalked out regarding crackdown against journalists.

Talking to a private TV channel, Zardari said the PPP would fully support journalists against the hearing regarding the contempt of court case against Geo TV. He said he has directed his lawyer Dr Babar Awan to appear in the court in May 22 hearing on behalf of newsmen.

Zardari also said he has made no requested to the Dubai government for shutting down of transmissions of Geo TV. Zardari said he would remove all misunderstandings of the media after coming back home.

To a question, Zardari said if Rehman Malik misbehaved with journalists, then he would be answerable. He denied any role in the Pemra’s decision of not issuing license to the Geo English channel. He said it is the prerogative of Pemra.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Sherry Rehman on Monday said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided to assist Geo television in its case with the Supreme Court with regard to a news story.

The matter has been taken up with PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and “we have decided to assist Geo television,” the minister told Geo television. She said the PPP would be co-petitioner with the Geo television and appoint a lawyer in this regard.

Commenting on Geo English television channel issue, she said there is no reason that channels fulfilling formalities are denied to issue licences, adding “there is no question about it”. Sherry said the government is looking into the matter and wanted to see more English channels going on air in the country, especially Geo English channel.

She said, the matter of new licenses to private television channels was perhaps pending with the interior ministry for clearance or investigation. To a question, the minister said Pemra is a regulatory body, and its all decisions should be in consultation with all stakeholders.

She said, presently about 46 to 48 private television channels are operating in the country and there is no suggestion under consideration for bringing about change in Pemra policy. The government wanted to continue with the same policy about the media, she said, adding “if there is any change in the policy it would be done in consultation with stakeholders”.
Source: The News
Date:5/13/2008