APNS, CPNE criticize defamation bill
KARACHI – The All-Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) and the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) have severely criticized the Defamation Bill presented by the government in the National Assembly.
Rejecting the bill, the APNS said that while the country was facing a ‘high tide of terrorism’, the government had chosen to ‘terrorize’ the press by “further blackening the existing draconian Defamation Ordinance 2002”.
According to a Press release, Dr Jabbar Khattak, the secretary-general of the CPNE, said that the council had already criticized the Defamation Ordinance of 2002 and called it a black law against press freedom. He said the CPNE had called for a dialogue with the government to amend the ordinance.
He said that the CPNE would hold an emergency meeting of its standing committee to discuss the proposed bill and its consequences. Syed Faseih Iqbal, acting president of the APNS, and Muhammad Aslam Kazi, secretary general, rejected “both the motivation and rationale” of the bill seeking to amend the Defamation Ordinance 2002. They rejected the bill and described it as an “undemocratic and unethical black press law”.
The said it appeared that the government was bent upon completing the unfinished agenda of 2002 to strangulate press freedom through back-door attempt to transform the Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan that guaranteed freedom of expression and freedom of press and set up watchdog role of the press in a democratic dispensation.
They said that instead of ensuring free flow of information through an acceptable information law, the government had backed out of its earlier agreements.
To decide defamation cases, the government had agreed with the APNS and the CPNE on the formation of a press council “which has not yet been established for evident reasons.” Had the press council been formed, there would have been no need for introducing the Defamation Bill.
Referring to a statement by Prime Minister Choudhary Shujaat Hussain that objectionable clauses of the bill would be discussed with press bodies and their concerns would accommodated, they requested the prime minister to hold composite talks with the APNS on all issues confronting the newspaper industry.