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PFUJ, HRCP others oppose proposed PMDA

By Our Correspondent
October 19, 2021

SUKKUR: The Hyderabad Union of Journalists (HUJ) on Sunday held a journalist convention in Hyderabad against the government-proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), discussing various other issues faced by the media fraternity.

The convention was attended by PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar, Secretary General Nasir Zaidi, Central Leader Afzal Butt, senior journalist Khalid Khokhar, members of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

The journalists and media organisations criticised the government’s plans to repeal all existing medialaws and replace them with the proposed ordinance, which would create a centralised media regulatory authority, named PMDA that aims to suppress the freedom of media.

While the PMDA will have the authority to shut down the media organisations, the ordinance also provides for the establishment of media tribunals with the power to impose punishments of up to three years’ imprisonment and a financial penalty on the content producers for violating provisions in the ordinance. It also foresees licensing and regulatory scheme for the digital media.

Addressing the convention, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar, Secretary General Nasir Zaidi and Central Leader Afzal Butt said many attempts had been made in the past too to silence the media by the dictators, but the journalists successfully fought for their rights and this time too, the journalist community would be successful in protecting the freedom of electronic and print media.

Khalid Khokhar, a senior journalist also said the government through the PMDA was trying to impose ‘media martial law’ on the media persons and organisations. He said that in the digital age, one could not stop spread of fake news until the journalists were allowed to work independently and speak the truth.

The protesting journalists were of the view that the government through the proposed media authority was attempting to abolish the Newspapers Employees Act as well. Similarly, the HRCP also expressed serious concern over the proposed authority. It termed the PMDA “draconian” regulatory framework.

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists also expressed its support for the protests launched by the journalists in Pakistan against the PMDA legislation and urged the government to withdraw it. The IPI feared that the law would “gravely weaken the press freedom in Pakistan.

Thousands of journalists came to Hyderabad to attend the journalist convention against the PMDA draft legislation, saying it would undermine the press freedom in the country.