Tuesday October 19, 2021

Why PMDA a threat to media freedom

August 26, 2021

Government-Press relationship is under serious threat not only from the move to control the media through ‘Pakistan Media Development Authority’ but the way the government intends to muzzle the media on its own or through some other pressures.

Unfortunately, the way the government tried to divide the media workers to achieve its goal reminded me of the days of Field Marshal Ayub Khan and General Ziaul Haq. Why is a person like Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who has always been respected for Szabist on concerns and implications of the PMDA, labour leader Karamat Ali described the situation in philosopher Noam Chomski’s words as “third world facism” and urged the people to think about if they want to live in democracy or total facism.

“It is high time that we think about a widespread movement to counter this facism because it keeps putting up a challenge before the public after every 10 years,” he said, adding, “The best era for facism in the country was the regime of General Ziaul Haq and this government is following the same roadmap.” He claimed because of this, Pakistan’s economy had been under blatant and unprecedented occupation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi said that in the past three months, 17,000 articles in print media were censored because of the curbs imposed on the media and through the PMDA, the government also wanted to control the social media to completely end the freedom of expression.

Zaidi said the government was bent on forming the PMDA either by the ordinance or through the act of parliament to implement their notion of hybrid warfare and to do so it was suppressing the dissenting voices. He said the journalists community, along with the civil society, will counter this together.

Former PFUJ Secretary General Mazhar Abbas said that the government was curtailing the media independence and dividing the media houses. He said they were after the major groups because they know once they control them, no other media house will become a problem for them.

Karachi Union of Journalists leader Ashraf Khan alleged that the establishment wanted to run this country on perception and keep the public away from the reality.

Professor Tauseef Ahmed Khan said attempts to control the media had been continuing since the times of the East India Company and only the tactics had changed. He said that unfortunately Pakistan started off with all the black laws of the British which Muhammad Ali Jinnah had opposed during his political activism and then the worst era on the media came during General Ayub Khan’s regime in the form of the Press and Publication Act of 1960. He said that those who say that true journalism will remain unaffected by the PMDA, want to end this profession.