=> LAHORE, Jan 23: The Human Rights Commission of Pak
LAHORE, Jan 23: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has called for removal of all curbs on media and of climate of fear in which newsmen are working for meeting the basic condition of free elections.
Welcoming the lifting of ban on Geo channels, HRCP Secretary-General Syed Iqbal Haider said in a statement that the ban was unjustified and violated not only the broadcaster’s freedom of expression but also the people’s freedom of information, besides causing hardships to thousands of journalists and workers.
It seemed that their suffering might well have been reduced if President Musharraf’s trip to Brussels had been scheduled earlier. Now that the rancour against the media seemed to be subsiding, the government should be able to realise the need for withdrawing all restrictions that prevented it from serving the people with truthful accounts of events and an atmosphere of free debate.
He said in June last year the government had promised to withdraw the Pemra (Amendment) Ordinance against which media organisations had strongly protested. That pledge remained unredeemed and on Nov 3 the harsh measure was reintroduced. At the same time the Presses, Newspapers and News Agencies Ordinance (earlier called Press and Publication Ordinance) was amended so as to increase the threat of executive’s punitive action. Subsequently came the ordinance on cyber offences which was causing considerable concern to the media people.
All the restrictive measures had created a climate of fear for journalists and unless the climate was ended a basic condition of free elections would not be met. Neither the media would be able to grow nor would the people secure their right to know if the media remained subject to the whim and caprice of Pemra or worse a single individual, he said.