=> Most senior journalists that The News spoke to on
Most senior journalists that The News spoke to on Monday endorsed a recent report prepared by a Fench organization, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF, or Reporters Without Borders), and opposed the promulgation of the two ordinances through which the media (electronic media in particular) was gagged by the regime.
They said that the ban imposed on TV channels should be withdrawn immediately because there can be no democracy without a free media — freedom of speech and expression is one of the cardinal rules of democracy, they said, and a gagged media can not be expected to report objectively.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) demanded that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) be suspended till the issue of its authority was resolved, because a whole list of complaints has been filed against the controversial body.
PFUJ members feared that PEMRA officials would try to pressure broadcasters during elections. They termed the ban on private TV channels as illegal and demanded that the PEMRA issue be discussed in the Senate.
The journalists’ union rejected the statement issued by the government in response to the RSF report which has questioned the freedom of the press in Pakistan. They also rejected government’s claim that the GEO case was only about violation of the PEMRA Code of Conduct.
The PFUJ also condemned the pressure put on the media and the registration of cases against journalists in interior Sindh. They demanded that the ban on GEO News and its affiliated channels be lifted immediately.
Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) president, Shamim-ur-Rehman, agreed with the RSF report and said that as long as the media curb was in place there could be no objective reporting, nor could there be any revival of democracy, “because a free media is an essential tool of true democracy.”
He also lamented the fact that journalists were charged under terrorist acts during their movement which “clearly showed the intentions of the government.”
Karachi Press Club (KPC) secretary, Imtiaz Khan Faran, supported the RSF report and said that never in the history of Pakistan had the media been attacked and targeted so totally, in complete violation of human rights ensured in the Constitution of Pakistan.
Former KPC president, Sabihuddin Ghousi, said that despite the ban, the media in Pakistan was vibrant and active and faced all challenges boldly. Quetta Press Club president, Shahzada Zulfiqar, lauded the RSF report and said that in Quetta, journalists were not even able to cover minor incidents, and paramilitary troops stations around the city routinely harassed journalists. “Reporting objectively during the elections seems impossible,” he said.
Bans on TV channels are illegal, Zulfiqar said, adding that if any channel had violated the law, it should be tried in court, instead of being banned arbitrarily. His sentiments were echoed by CPNE VP and senior Quetta-based journalist, Siddique Baloch, who said that journalists were harassed and threatened by the paramilitary forces stationed in the Balochistan capital. A reporter for a local daily from Wadh was missing for the past 43 days and had not been recovered yet. “How can one believe that the media is free under such circumstances,” Baloch asked.
Source: The News