Zardari urges parliament to discuss Right to Information bill
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said freedom of expression is systematically being eroded in the name of ideology and national security on the one hand and crimes against media persons are being committed with impunity on the other.
“Unfortunately, freedom of expression has come under increasing attack by the state in the name of national security and by non-state actors in the name of ideology. This [restriction of freedom] indeed is a post-9/11 challenge that must be addressed urgently,” Mr Zardari said in a message on International Press Freedom Day observed on Wednesday.
“The PPP stands by journalists in their struggle for achieving twin objectives — right to freedom of expression and ending impunity of crimes against them,” he added.
The former president’s statement comes following the issuance of a notification by the government after the conclusion of an inquiry into a Dawn story on civil-military relations.
He said freedom of expression and articulation of pluralistic ideas in a genuinely democratic set-up was necessary for the development of societies. Free access and exchange of information and ideas empowered citizens, he added.
Mr Zardari expressed concern that the draft of the Right to Information (RTI) bill, which was unanimously approved by all political parties, had not been brought before parliament by the government.
“On the eve of International Press Freedom Day, I call upon the government to immediately bring before parliament the unanimously agreed legislation aimed at ensuring right to information,” he said.
Mr Zardari urged all organs of the state to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and to set up credible mechanisms for ensuring their protection.
“I pay tribute to all those journalists who have braved odds while performing their duties under difficult and dangerous conditions,” he added.