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October 7, 2019

House bodies to take up journalists’ safety, censorship today

Lahore

October 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Two National Assembly standing committees, one headed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal, separately take up on Oct 7 matters relating to safety and security of journalists, freedom of expression and censorship of political activities.

Bilawal led committee on human rights, among other items listed for consideration, will get a briefing from the human rights ministry secretary on the commitments made with the United Nations and all other international bodies along with current status with respect to child protection and safety and security of journalists.

The forum will also hold a discussion on issues of human rights arising out of the promulgation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance and ways to address them. The ordinance has been criticised by human rights organisations and others and demanded its withdrawal.

The House body will get a briefing from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general on the prosecution of journalist Shahzaib Jillani. The agenda of the other standing committee on information & broadcasting chaired by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Legislator Mian Javed Latif shows that it will take into consideration what it said stark violation of freedom of expression, enshrined in the Constitution, by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

It will also deliberate upon “banning and censorship of narratives and activities of political leaders”. Besides, it will mull over the draft of print, electronic and digital advertisement policy; Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2019 moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MP Amjad Ali Khan and the Press, Newspaper, News Agencies and Books Registration (amendment) bill sponsored by PML-N lawmaker Mian Najeebuddin Awaisi.

The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs, headed by Jamiate Ulemae Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, which will assemble on Oct 9, will get a detailed briefing on overall Haj-2019 along with details of ministry’s performance before and during the pilgrimage. It will look at the number of complaints registered during Haj by the Hujjaj and ministry’s response to them and will be briefed on improvement in Haj policy for 2020 to facilitate the pilgrims regarding their residences, transportation, diet, healthcare and facilitation on airports. During the recently concluded Haj, several complaints emerged from the pilgrims. The religious affairs minister conceded that some Hujjaj faced problems but said they were not in a very large number.

The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change, meeting on Oct 7, will receive a report and briefing from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation about cleanliness in Islamabad (disposal of waste/garbage and industrial waste etc., and on shifting of Kachi Abadies (slums).

The state of cleanliness in the federal capital has of late worsened and garbage depots are visible in the city. The Supreme Court also recently passed critical comments on the conditions and ordered authorities to pay attention to it. The CDA has turned out to be unwilling in keeping the sprawling city clean.

The Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs which will hold its meeting on Oct 16 and 17, will take up, among other items, hurdles and issues pertaining to functioning of WeBOC [web based one customs] system and other matters relating to the Gwadar Port Authority and Gwadar Free Zone Area. The Senate Standing Committee on Interior will consider on Oct 8 a notice taken by its Chairman Rehman Malik regarding alarming increase in the number of dengue patients in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The epidemic is spreading unchecked in many cities, including Islamabad with authorities looking helpless to control it as they have failed to take precautionary measures ahead of its spread. The Senate Standing Committee on Railways meeting on Oct 8 will be briefed on budget allocation for the financial year 2019-2020 and its utilisation plan; status of renovation/revamping of ML-1 track and status and progress on Karachi Circular Railways (KCR), Karachi. Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid is accompanying Prime Minister Imran Khan to China to mobilise Chinese funding for the ML-1. He has shown keenness to start this mega project but has complained that the bureaucracy is not cooperating as it is reluctant to sign files. He has raised the issue in the federal cabinet meetings more than once.

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