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Monday June 24, 2024

President for creating environment conducive to media freedom

Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the state of press freedom in our country and make efforts to create a safe and conducive working environment for journalists: says President

By Our Correspondent
May 03, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari addresses an event this image was released on May 2, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP
President Asif Ali Zardari addresses an event this image was released on May 2, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP 

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari reaffirmed the commitment to cultivating an environment where the media is independent and diverse and enjoys freedoms with responsibility as enshrined in the Constitution.

“The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the freedom of the press; however, it is also the responsibility of the media to abide by journalistic ethics and report responsibly and accurately, keeping in view the national interest. The media should play its role in countering fake news and promoting moral and ethical values,” he said in a statement on World Press Freedom Day on Thursday.

The president said the day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the state of press freedom in our country and make efforts to create a safe and conducive working environment for journalists.

He said we believe that an independent press is essential for highlighting issues of global importance, dispelling fake news and myths, and serving as a watchdog for society.

“Media also has a crucial role in creating awareness about issues of global concern, including climate change, green technologies, pollution, and global warming,” he said.

He said the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis” underscores the importance of a free press in creating awareness and educating the people about climate change and its impacts on human life and the environment.

“We believe that the media can play its role in encouraging people to protect the environment by promoting forestation, adopting clean technologies, reducing carbon emissions, and protecting biodiversity to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on our ecosystem,” he said.

He added the theme also highlights that a free and responsible press should act as a bulwark against misleading information about climate change.

Moreover, he said World Press Freedom Day also serves as a reminder that journalists, throughout the world, are facing challenges in doing their jobs. “We need to provide an enabling environment free of intimidation or harassment to journalists so that they can freely express their opinions,” he said.

The president said it is, therefore, imperative to initiate measures for the safety and security of journalists enabling them to freely report on important issues, without fear.

Today, he continued, we also recognise the commendable role played by the media in promoting democratic values in the world, as well as raising awareness about issues of social and economic significance, especially climate change and global warming. “I am hopeful that the media would continue to contribute constructively in raising awareness about issues of global concern. I am sure that media advocacy of these issues would spur international action to save our planet from the threat of climate change.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while extending solidarity to journalists and media professionals worldwide, emphasised the paramount importance of press freedom and reaffirmed his party’s staunch support for the invaluable role of a free and independent press in fostering democracy.

“Press freedom is not merely a cornerstone of democracy, but also vital for nurturing transparency, accountability, and the proliferation of diverse ideas within society,” he said.

He noted that President Zardari honored the vision and guiding principles of Shaheed Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto by enshrining the “Right to Know” into the Constitution through the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

He urged that safeguarding and upholding this fundamental right should be the responsibility of every democratic government and party.

Bilawal said that historically, the Press in Pakistan has served as a watchdog, uncovering injustices, exposing corruption, and amplifying the voices of the marginalised.

Expressing concern over challenges such as censorship, fake news, and violence faced by journalists, he urged media organisations to uphold journalistic integrity, impartiality, and professionalism in their reporting.

The PPP chairman reiterated the party’s unwavering support for press freedom, grounded in democracy and liberty principles.

He underscored the 1973 Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression, including press freedom, a legacy of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “Under his leadership, reforms liberalised media policies, fostering greater independence,” he noted.

He highlighted former prime minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s efforts to promote press freedom, including abolishing censorship laws and supporting independent media growth, adding that she also championed press freedom and human rights globally, underscoring their significance in democratic governance and seeking international support during dictatorial regimes.

Bilawal expressed PPP’s solidarity with journalists in conflict zones like Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and Gaza, Palestine, praising their courage in reporting on human rights abuses despite grave risks. “Let us carry forward the torch of press freedom, illuminating pathways of accountability and fostering dialogue. Through our unwavering support, let’s empower journalists to fearlessly navigate the realms of truth, shaping a brighter future for all,” he said.