=> LAHORE, Jan 27: Caretaker Federal Information Mini
LAHORE, Jan 27: Caretaker Federal Information Minister Nisar A. Memon has called upon the journalists to counter foreign media’s `terrorism’ and avoid making the president controversial.
Giving concluding remarks at the two-day moot on `National integration and media at the Punjab University Institute of Communication Studies here on Sunday afternoon, he said the caretaker government was working for Pakistan instead of any person but the office of the president should not be made controversial because it was the symbol of federation.
He said media freedom was a must for national integration and survival of democracy in Pakistan. The government had never opposed fair criticism and accountability. President Pervez Musharraf had promulgated ordinances for freedom of print and electronic media, freedom of information and formation of a press council in 2002 without any demand from the stakeholders.
He said nearly 80 local and foreign television channels had been given licences by the government but the press council had not been constituted because the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) had not nominated their members so far.
He said all television channels closed down by the government had signed its code of conduct and had been allowed to resume broadcast. The government would not have been required to evolve its code of conduct for media in case the council had become functional.
He said the government did not believe in suppressing media freedom by force. It wanted the media to regulate its freedom by formulating its own code of conduct. The government’s code of conduct for the media was based on international best practices but it could be withdrawn after the media had formulated its own code.
He said the caretaker government was making all possible efforts for holding fair and free general election in the country. The Information Ministry would convene a conference for creating consensus among the political parties participating in polls. He said the people supported national integration and would defend it no matter who was in power.
He also announced establishment of media universities in Islamabad and all the provinces. The ministry would also talk to the respective quarters for allowing the journalists to cover the war going on in tribal areas.
Punjab University vice-chancellor Prof Dr.Mujahid Kamran said Pakistan had come into being as a result of the efforts made by Quaid-i-Azam for national integration of Muslims.
Former PU VC Dr.Rafiq Ahmed said sense of pride in nationhood helped in national integration but it was undermined by the sense of deprivation. India was intact despite anti-state movements because it was naturally integrated.
Columnist Sajjad Mir said India had not disintegrated despite secessionist movements because of its strong democratic traditions. The elections were always held there on time and the armed forces never thought of interference in governance.
South Asia Free Media Association secretary-general Imtiaz Alam said the media could not follow the establishment line while handling the news because it was not required to take sides.