Journalists stage countrywide protest against Cyber Crime Bill
ISLAMABAD: The journalists on the World Press Freedom Day on Sunday marched on the roads and vowed if the government tried to mute the voice of the media through Cyber Crime Bill, they would strongly resist this move and stage large scale demonstrations in favour of freedom of speech and expression in the country.
The call for demonstrations was given by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to raise the voice for freedom of expression and highlight the plight of the journalists who had been carrying out their professional duties in the face of potential threats by various segments of the society.
Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated every year on May 3 to mark the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper in 1991.
The protesters during demonstrations chanted full-throated slogans for freedom of expression and speech in various cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Khairpur, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad.
PFUJ President Afzal Butt while addressing the participants of the rally in front of the National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad said that the international communities had consistently been declaring Pakistan as one of the most dangerous countries for the journalists but the incumbent government was yet to take any step to provide them protection.
The World Press Freedom Index 2014 issued by the “Reporters without Borders”, termed Pakistan the world’s deadliest country for media men. Pakistan was ranked at the 158th in 180 countries index.
Afzal Butt said that the journalists from Karachi to South Waziristan were facing life threats but the government was not serious in taking steps for their protection. “We are told if we do not stop bringing truth before the people, we will be killed like Wali Khan Babar and Musa Khan”, he said. The PFUJ president said that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had issued notices to news channels for airing speech of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain but it had ignored the ground realities and did not dig out the fact what happened to the media houses if they would not do so.
NPC President Shahrayar Khan said the government wanted to mute the voice of media through Cyber Crime Bill but it should keep it in mind that the journalists always resisted such kinds of moves and military dictators like Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf also had to bite the dust in their efforts to impose curbs on media.
“We have strong reservations regarding Cyber Crime Bill and term it an effort to impose curb on the media. The clauses of this controversial bill clearly restrict the journalists from carrying out their professional duties and allow corrupt and criminal elements to continue their activities with complete impunity,” he said.
Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) President Ali Raza Alvi said the representatives of the government should hold consultation with PFUJ and remove all such clauses from Cyber Crime Bill that restricted journalists from doing their professional work.