AJ Foundation says had no partisan agenda at conference

 
November 29, 2021

LAHORE: The Asma Jahangir Foundation Sunday vehemently rejected allegations that the conference, organised by the Foundation in collaboration with other organisations last week, furthered any...

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LAHORE: The Asma Jahangir (AJ) Foundation Sunday vehemently rejected allegations that the conference, organised by the Foundation in collaboration with other organisations last week, furthered any partisan agenda.

In a press release issued here, the Foundation noted that no such allegations were made at the earlier conferences when Bilawal Bhutto and Yusuf Raza Gilani had delivered the closing addresses.

The AJ Foundation said several prominent members of the ruling PTI party were invited to all three conferences, many of whom spoke at all three conferences and others who declined the invitation. The AJ Foundation. along with its partners, the Supreme Court Bar Association, and the Pakistan Bar Council, believes that leaders of opposition parties, big and small, should be invited to speak, and freedom of expression, even where it involves true but uncomfortable conversations, is the cornerstone of democracy.

“The AJ Foundation reiterates that no one was invited to speak at the conference in violation of any law,” the release said. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has banned certain categories of individuals from being broadcasted on television; no such prohibition is placed on these individuals addressing public gatherings in general.

“Indeed, former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addressed gatherings previously and it is entirely regrettable, not to say embarrassing, that internet cables were disabled to black out his speech.

“This act in itself is an indication of the state of freedom of expression in the current regime where Pakistan is ranked as 145 out of 180 countries,” added the press release.

“By picking on conferences and personalities, the ruling regime is diverting attention from the real threat to institutions, the state of the economy and freedom of expression in the country,” alleged the release.“Our position remains that we will not follow vendettas of political parties when inviting speakers; and the AJ Conference will remain an open and uncensored platform for diverse voices across the political spectrum,” said the press release.



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