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Senate reaffirms commitment to freedom of press

National

May 4, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Friday passed a unanimous resolution, reaffirming its strong commitment to freedom of press and expression, calling it crucial for rule of law and strengthening of democracy in the country, as senators advocated pressure-free working environment for media persons.

The resolution moved by leader of the house in the Senate Shibli Faraz in connection with the World Press Freedom Day, reiterated that access to transparent and reliable information was the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.

Senators wanted the Parliament to play its role in protection of the media, as pressers were not being permitted to be held at the press clubs. The resolution unanimously adopted by the House recognised the fundamental human right of press freedom and paid tribute to journalists, editors and publishers who risk their lives in defence of masses’ right to know.

The senators saluted the media martyrs, who laid down their lives in the line of duty and affirmed their complete solidarity and support to the media workers in their just struggle for security of life and service so that they could perform their professional duties without any hindrance or constraint.

Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani said that Senate pays tributes to the services of journalists, who played a very important role for the uplift of the country through pointing out wrongdoings and flaws in the system.

He called on the government to fulfill its responsibility regarding addressing the problems faced by the media workers. Speaking on the occasion, Shibli Faraz said that the World Press Freedom Day is not only an important day, it is equally important for all democratic forces in the country. He said that the role media especially the local media has a history of playing a crucial in strengthening of democracy.

He said that breaking the two-party system in the country could not have been impossible without support of the media and it is the vibrant media due to which Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged the third largest political party in 2018 general election. He proposed legislation to ensure life and job security of journalists, adding we, the lawmakers here in this house should sit down to put in place a mechanism for the security of journalists.

Former chairman Senate Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said that Article 19 of the Constitution gave freedom of speech and expression to every citizen and granted independence of media. He said that in martial law regimes, the journalists had to face lots of hardships, but today a similar situation is going on.

Rabbani pointed out, “A new trend of missing news has also started after missing persons, as journalists and media owners are getting threatening calls from unknown numbers. Today, political parties are not allowed to hold pressers outside press clubs in the given the situation, the parliament should play its due role”.

Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Now, more than ever, we need to protect press freedom from tyrannical tactics aimed at gagging the public’s access to the truth or portray the media as enemy of the public and the state”. She said that the level of press freedom in Pakistan is still continuously threatened, adding it is our responsibility as citizens of Pakistan to hold the line and protect this very important pillar of democracy.

She remarked, “We have come too far in our struggle to give up now. It is alarming that Pakistan, a fragile democracy that could use the transparency and fairness free media offers, is currently the 4th most dangerous country for media”.

PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar said that media workers were facing threats and pressures at a time when there is a democratically elected government, which is quite shameful.

PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who is a former journalist, said that Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the founder of two main newspapers, once said: “Certainly criticize fearlessly, when a wrong thing is done. I welcome criticism, but it must be honest and constructive”.

PPP Senator Rubina Khalid said that media workers are going through a very difficult time, for which the parliament should play its due role, adding the near and dear ones of the journalist should be given some compensation by the state in case of death in line of duty.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of JI said that there is no second opinion about that if the teething democracy is seen functioning in the country for quite long, it is because of press freedom, or else things could have been different. The House will now resume Monday at 2:00pm.

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