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PFUJ welcomes federal, Sindh govts draft Journalists Protection Bills

By Our Correspondent
May 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has welcomed the Journalists Protection Bill, urging the government to grant more powers to the commission that would hear the complaints of the media persons.

In a statement issued on Friday, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi said that the draft of the bill was much better than the ones prepared in the last 15 years. “This is a result of our continuous struggle for such a law for journalists’ protection and freedom of Press,” the PFUJ leaders said.

However, there were certain clauses of the bill that need to be improved or amended, the two leaders said, adding that the commission was not fully empowered. “For instance, freelance journalist may also be defined apart from inclusion of members of the PBC, HRCP, NCHR and other stakeholders. Besides, the commission should be empowered to summon the government officials.

“In addition to that, the definition of journalist or the media person should be clarified and broadened," they added.

The PFUJ president and secretary general also expressed reservations over the method to appoint the chairman of the commission. They said: "We had demanded that a judge of the Supreme Court or a retired judge of the apex court should be appointed as the chairman of the commission, but the committee has set different terms and conditions for qualification of the chairman than the ones suggested by us.

“We believe that these terms and conditions should be changed because if the chairman is appointed in this way, then he will be subservient to the government and his impartiality would be questionable. “In addition to that, more stakeholders should be inducted into the commission so that it would emerge as a balanced entity.”

Despite these all shortcomings, the preparation of a bill is a positive step in the right direction, the leaders of journalist fraternity said, adding that they hoped that their points and suggestions would be incorporated in the final of the bill. They urged both treasury and opposition parties to fully support recommendations, made by the PFUJ before it is tabled in both the houses of the parliament.