Rashid pledges free movement of Saarc journalists to Pakistan -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Rashid pledges free movement of Saarc journalists to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Sheikh Rashid on Saturday promised free movement of Saarc journalists to Pakistan, asking them to lend a helping hand in promoting harmony in the region.

Addressing South Asian journalists, converged on the second conference of the South Asian Free Media Association (Safma), the minister said the journalists could bridge political divides. Emphasising that local media was independent, the minister said the government’s control over advertisements did not make any difference because the newspaper organisations have grown financially strong.

He said for ensuring a lasting peace in the region, resolving ‘real issues’ was the key. The Safma is demanding free access to the South Asian region for the Saarc journalists with 15 years of experience, besides association with the Saarc and independence from state influence. At the end of the first session of the conference, an Indian journalist sought protection to what he called bare-footed journalists and reporters.

He proposed shaping up public opinion in favour of good instead of feeding them with what the newspapers’ sold as a product. The Safma Secretary General Imtiaz Alam opposed media’s tendency to side with the policies of their respective governments in the name of national interest and underlined the need for an approach free from all biases and prejudices.

HRCP Director (Pakistan) IA Rehman said the Pemra Ordinance was being used to blackmail electronic media as a known television channel was being denied licence only to keep control over it. He added said MPPO, the law on safeguarding the ideology of Pakistan, which prescribed 10 years imprisonment, was absent of the definition of as to what could be against the country. He said a journalist was picked up, whose whereabouts remained unknown, for making a fake film. “I wonder whether making a fake film was bailable or a non-bailable offence,” he said, adding: “We do not go by laws but practice, which is abominable.”

Niresh Eliatamby from Sri Lanka said the government of prime minister Vikramasingha promised to privatise some state-run media but the president seized control before it could be done. He lamented the lack of training institutions for journalism, stating most of the training a journalist gets is from the field.

He said the officials in Sri Lanka did not talk to journalist without seeking written permission from the government, which took weeks. He added the media was strongly influenced by the politics of the country.

Source: The News