ISLAMABAD: Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Shibli Faraz has said the government gives due importance to freedom of expression.
Addressing a PFUJ seminar on “Freedom of Press and Resolution of Media Crisis” here on Wednesday, he said the government would do its best to solve problems of the journalist community. He said a bill will be introduced in Parliament for physical and financial protection of the journalists. He said the media should highlight people’s problems. He said the government’s positive steps should also be acknowledged by the media.
Shibli Faraz said the media houses should pay salaries to media workers timely. He commended the services of journalists particularly during COVID-19.
He regretted that the opposition had rejected the bill on journalists. He said no organisation could make progress without adopting the practices in vogue. He said journalists should make the process of giving membership to organisations and press clubs more transparent so that more able people could come forward.
The seminar was also addressed by Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former minister Ahsan Iqbal, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar, Secretary General Nasir Zaidi, former president Afzal Butt, RIUJ President Amir Sajjad Syed and Vice-President Maira Imran.
The PFUJ leaders announced the start of a long march from Quetta in April and a protest movement in the Federal Capital to press for their demands.
According to a PFJU resolution, a protest sit-in would continue in the capital till the acceptance of their demands. The protest will continue till all anti-media policies are withdrawn.
It said the government had failed to protect journalists and arrest those involved in kidnapping them. It also demanded fair distribution of advertisements and condemned sacking of journalists. It also urged the government to implement the wage award in letter and spirit.
Shibli Faraz said journalism has become a very challenging profession as every person possessing a camera and having access to social media is claiming to be a journalist. He said the government is committed to ensure freedom of expression and maintain healthy ties with the media and press. He said the newspapers and electronic media are like a bouquet of flowers.
Shibli appealed to the media to highlight issues of public instead of focussing on some particular issues only. He says the government deserves appreciation on its good work, while positive criticism on mistakes is also welcome.
The minister said work on Journalist Safety Bill is in progress. He said the bill also has definition of journalist. He said the government brought a bill in Parliament on the issues of salaries of journalists, but it was unfortunately rejected by the opposition. He said the PTI government has paid most of the dues of media houses of its own tenure and previous governments as well. He said PFUJ struggle has a glorious history.
Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the people are well aware what is happening with newspapers and TV channels. He said the freedom of media cannot be suppressed in 21th century.
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said technological advancement has revolutionised the global media so the Pakistani journalists need to adapt new technologies.
He said that the government did not take PDM long march serious but will consider the long march by journalists. “We’ll try to things in Quetta,” he added.
The minister conveyed that the present government will introduce the first-ever digital media policy this year.
Referring to the former president of the United States, Obama’s statement of 2013, the federal minister said that Obama has well said that it will be a great challenge for the governments as well as politicians to manage the information war.
“This problem is not being faced only by Pakistan but the whole world,” he said.
He said the government wanted to create such an atmosphere where difference of opinion may exist without any violence. He said the freedom enjoyed by Pakistani media cannot even imagined in the Muslim or third world countries.
PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said the journalists are working for protecting the spirit of Pakistan.
PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said the PFUJ has been frontline force in ensuring media freedom.
Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said the era of resistance by the media has gone. He also expressed concern over the issue of unpaid salaries of journalists.