ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Tuesday reiterated the coalition government would not yield to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) pressure for snap polls.
A statement to this effect was made during a meeting between Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUIF) chief Fazlur Rehman and Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif at the PM House.
According to local media sources, both the bigwigs of the coalition alliance met to discuss the ongoing situation in the aftermath of PTI s decision to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.
During the meeting, Shehbaz said the government is focusing on improving the country s economic condition and soon the Centre will provide relief to the masses.
Taking a shot at the PTI chairman, the PDM chief stated that Imran Khan wanted to create chaos in the country by dissolving assemblies.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while observing that the freedom of expression is sacrosanct and remains at the heart of the development of democracy, reaffirmed the government's strong commitment to supporting all efforts that promote and uphold the principles of freedom of expression and free media.
Democracy and media reinforce each other and there can be no democracy without freedom of expression, the prime minister said while addressing an event jointly organised by the Freedom Network and the Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition (PJSC). The event marked the 10-year anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity by examining the plan s impact on Pakistan and Asia.
The prime minister said his government would be part of efforts aimed at making Pakistani democracy stronger through greater free media.
He pointed out that Pakistan became the first country in Asia to pass legislation on the safety of journalists at the federal and provincial levels in the Sindh province.
He said the government will continue to support the ongoing efforts in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to legislate on the safety of journalists. We will proactively facilitate the implementation of Journalists Safety Law, he said.
The prime minister, however, on demand of the journalist community, promised to look into Section 6 of the Act to prevent harassment and intimidation of journalists.
He said parliament passed a landmark Protection of Journalists and Media Professional Acts after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders, adding that the law recognises the rights of journalists and seeks to protect media persons from all kinds of ill-treatment and aggression and assured protection.
The premier said his government believes that no journalists should be called out or attacked for exercising their freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.
Referring to the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, Shehbaz said he has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a commission to investigate the murder and hoped some action will be taken in this regard.
He also pointed out that the journalist community of the country over the years contributed to press freedom and also pointed out that Hamid Mir, who is chairperson of the Journalist Safety Forum, faced serious challenges in this connection, including an attempt on his life.
Shehbaz said that despite the chequered history with 33 years of military rule, the collective political efforts lead to a resumption of democracy to put the country on the right track. He termed the 1973 Constitution a very sacred document, which acted as a binding force among the units of the Federation and ensured democratic values besides ensuring the basic rights of citizens.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of France Nicolas Galey was appreciative of the legislation passed by the Pakistani parliament for the protection of journalists saying this was a major step forward. He said his embassy will continue to promote media exchanges between Pakistan and France.
Norway's Ambassador to Pakistan Per Albert Ilsaas said the global community must ensure a safe environment for the journalists, both online and offline. He said the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act by Pakistan is a major step towards ensuring the safety of journalists and media practitioners and protecting them from violence and harassment.
Talking about the collaboration between Denmark and Pakistan in the field of media, Danish Ambassador to Pakistan Jakob Linulf said his country backs community journalism in Pakistan. He said his government support goes to a growing ecosystem of media startups in the country. He said that they recently arranged a visit of Pakistani journalists to Denmark to enhance their capacity to report on climate change.
PJSC Chairperson Hamid Mir proposed that federal and Sindh governments must notify the safety commissions under the laws passed by the National Assembly and stressed the passage of similar laws for the journalists of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab.
He demanded immediate removal of Section 6 from the Federal Journalists Safety Law, which acts as a pre-qualifier for journalists before benefiting from the law, and pointed out that it was mysteriously added to the final draft bill without the knowledge of journalists.
He called for taking journalists out of the purview of online expression through laws such as PECA (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act) or other regulations and emphasised support by the federal and provincial governments against attacks, intimidation and harassment of women journalists.
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