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Monday April 22, 2024

Govt to disband PMDA, says information minister

By Mumtaz Alvi & News Desk
April 20, 2022
Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a press conference in Islamabad on April 19, 2022. Photo: PID
Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a press conference in Islamabad on April 19, 2022. Photo: PID

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb Tuesday announced disbanding of the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) set up during the PTI government's tenure.

"An attempt was being made to gag an already muzzled media. But now, whatever shape and form the PMDA is working in, we have announced the move to disband it," the minister — who took oath hours earlier — told journalists.

Aurangzeb said the coalition government would not allow the imposition of curbs on the freedom of expression in the country as she termed PMDA a "black law". Marriyum Aurangzeb asked President Arif Alvi to resign if he was unable to discharge his constitutional duties and wanted to use his office for a political party. “I think he has forgotten that he is the President of Pakistan and not the president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The office of President comes first than the PTI.

“He has a constitutional post and responsibilities accordingly, as he has taken oath to safeguard the Constitution and abide by it,” she said during her first news conference after having taken oath as a federal minister here.

Replying to a question, she contended if he (the president) was not able to abide by the Constitution and oath and couldn’t maintain the dignity and respect of the office, the best option for him was to resign.

She said that the people of Pakistan were watching how a constitutional post was being used for political purposes and what happened and was happening was before everyone whereas the Punjab governor had no courage to take oath from the elected chief minister Hamza Shehbaz.

“By adopting a constitutional path, Cheema has been removed and now he should relinquish his post so that another appointment could be made and oath ceremony could take place.” The minister said that a systematic campaign was being launched against the institutions, including the army and judiciary through robotic tweets.

She said this campaign would not only be stopped but action would also be taken against those involved in the campaign through the FIA, as Twitter handles of bot tweets had come to us and investigation was underway.

“When someone talks against PTI, he is an enemy and traitor. We are watching all these things and there is zero tolerance for this. We are watching the bid to task people to hold protests outside the residences of senior journalists. The prime minister has directly instructed the IGP to take action against those involved,” she made it clear.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said that harassment of journalists would not be allowed and all agencies had been alerted in this regard and strict action would be taken against those involved in such activities. The minister also made it clear that the government would not level false allegations against anyone but if someone did anything wrong, the law would take its course.

Commenting on the PTI rule, she said that during the last four years of the PTI government, Pakistan had the worst form of governance and its opponents were subjected to political revenge. She continued the media industry had gone through a dark period in the previous government's tenure, expression was banned for four years, many journalists' programmes were shut, media workers and reporters were fired from their jobs under pressure and language of bullying, abuse and intimidation was all around.

She said that in the past, journalists had been abducted, tortured, fired upon; four had been banned from expressing their views while the past government had tried to bring the PMDA. She pointed out that the previous government had tried to introduce a black law, the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) (Amendment) Ordinance 2022, which was later rejected by the Islamabad High Court while the opposition had also rejected it earlier.

The minister explained that Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar had decided to review the PECA law introduced in 2016 in consultation with all the stakeholders. She contended that a joint action committee comprising all the stakeholders, including media organisations, would meet to discuss media issues, adding that after consultation, a solution would be found.

The minister said that the people of Pakistan knew that the present government was their representative and this government included all the political parties and together we would end chaos and problems in the country.

She maintained that the new government would not continue the tradition of the worst accountability against political opponents, which was done during the PTI era, and no innocent person would be sent to jail.

“Our goal was to come to the government and solve the problems of people. We will end the ongoing chaos in the country. We will not take political revenge. We are starting a new era, we will accept positive criticism, if criticism helps to solve the problems of the people, it provides guidance, we would welcome this criticism,” she explained.

She recalled when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, the government did not stop any channel from doing talk shows on Panama Leaks. Shehbaz Sharif remained the chief minister for 10 years but no retaliatory action had been taken against anyone.