Representatives of press clubs, unions form alliance to resist restrictions on media in Pakistan -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Representatives of press clubs, unions form alliance to resist restrictions on media in Pakistan

Pakistan Press Foundation

The participants in the joint meeting decided to seek cooperation from human rights activists and lawyers and create deterrence over the safety of journalists and ‘shrinking space’ for free speech in the media, Dawn reported.

In a bid to jointly resist media restrictions through pressure tactics and trolling on social media and to ensure freedom of expression, representatives of various press clubs, unions and associations of journalists and media workers formed an alliance called ‘Coalition for Free Media’ on Sunday.

According to media reports. almost all groups and factions of media organisations, including Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (Apnec), press clubs of four provincial capitals and the National Press Club, participated in the meeting.

During the meeting, the initiative by the Association of Electronic Media Editors & News Directors (AMEND) to form the ‘Coalition for Free Media’ was supported by the participants. The participants in the joint meeting also decided to form a ‘steering committee’ of the coalition to resist the continuous degradation of the freedom of information in Pakistan.

The participants in the joint meeting decided to seek cooperation from human rights activists and lawyers and create deterrence over the safety of journalists and ‘shrinking space’ for free speech in the media, Dawn reported.

President Azhar Abbas, who moderated the meeting, announced that freedom of speech did not mean unregulated and unethical media practices.

The participants stressed that character assassination of journalists on social and mainstream media had become a norm in recent years.PFUJ (Barna) President Afzal Butt said many countries had imposed restrictions on media. However, it appeared too obvious and blatant in Pakistan. He stated that regressive policies were being followed, even by political parties, against media freedom.

According to a statement issued by the coalition, successive governments, political parties and some state institutions have adopted the policy to defame independent journalists and damage their image through a sustained campaign. It said that some media and journalists have also started taking part in this campaign.

The statement said some TV channels and newspapers allegedly attempted to justify such defamatory campaigns, accusing the media organisations and professional journalists of committing treason and even blasphemy, according to Dawn report.

It was agreed that media organisations and journalists could have different editorial policies and report the same stories differently. However, there could be fair and justified criticism of these stories and opinions.

The coalition said, “But if media organisations start to run campaigns against journalists, they themselves are likely to become a threat to media freedom in this county,” Dawn reported.

The coalition has called for several demands including ‘ensuring free speech and freedom of media’ as no society can progress without free media. Freedom of speech generates dialogue and debate which is important in every democratic society, recalling that media organisations have been campaigning for this constitutional right.

Members of the coalition held discussions on the issue of safety and protection of journalists. It noted scores of journalists have been killed and several abducted or incarcerated by state and non-state actors, during the past many years.

The coalition decided to jointly resist any attack on media organisations from state or non-state actors. The participants agreed that there was undue pressure and demand to not publish columns and articles of certain writers or sack journalists and it had become the order of the day.

The participants said that those resisting such undue pressures from the government and state institutions had been subjected to different types of persecution, including stoppage of government advertisements and blocking of TV channel transmission.

Source: Firstpost


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