ISLAMABAD:(APS) April 6 ,2017-The government had an abiding commitment to provide an enabling and secure environment to the journalists so that they could perform their duties as per professional ethos.
In this regard, the government would promulgate a new law designed to ensure security, safety and welfare of the journalists, Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb stated on the occasion of `Martyred Journalists Day, being observed throughout the country under the auspices of the Federal Union of Journalists said.
Marriyum elaborated that democracy and journalism were both arduous paths to traverse as they tested the temperament and courage of its followers at every step of the voyage.
She said that politics and journalism shared common goals which could be achieved through cooperation, dedication and hard work. She said that democracy and media had complementary roles and were source of strength for each other.
The weakness of one could have negative repercussions for the other, she added.
Later addressing an event organized by the PFUJ to pay tributes to the martyrs of journalism, the minister said that under the prevailing circumstances the journalists needed a law to ensure their
She said that the laws enacted by the previous governments for the protection of journalists had many lacunas which would be removed in the `Journalist Welfare and Protection Bill’ which the government was contemplating to enact.
The minister revealed that a debate on the proposed bill would be held at the National Press Club Islamabad on Monday.
The state minister said that any attack on the media was an attack on Pakistan. The media, she said, has played a sterling role in strengthening democracy and democratic institutions.
She paid rich tributes to the journalists who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and also eulogized the contribution made by Hamid Mir in upholding independence of media and freedom of expression.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Thursday said the media persons have been rendering great sacrifices for freedom of expression and democracy in the country and the incumbent government is going to carry out legislation that would help provide them protection in the face of the growing challenges and threats.
Addressing the gathering at the event held by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to mark Journalists Martyrs Day she said when she assumed the charge as the minister, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed her to work for the legislation to provide secure environment to the journalists who have been sacrificing their lives for noble cause of protecting freedom of expression and democratic system in Pakistan.
“The new law would help strength both Pakistan and media and create an environment where the journalists will feel sense of protection against the threats being hurled by various segments. I strongly believe that any attack on the media houses or journalists is actually the attack on Pakistan because the media industry has been protecting the national interests of this country,” she said.
She said the representatives of the government and the journalists associations would hold discussion on Monday to review all aspects of the upcoming law that would become a reality in the coming days.
Lauding the sacrifices of the martyred journalists she said their struggle would not go to waste and their mission would be accomplished at any cost, adding “The war on terror being fought by the government and the media industry will continue till elimination of each and every terrorist from the country.
Chairman of Senate Mian Raza Rabbani in his remarks said the laws are made by the governments but the issue of implementation of these laws is still one of the main problems so all stakeholders should ensure that any law that is introduced is implemented in true letter and spirit.
“Those who belong to the elite segment don’t care about laws because they go abroad despite facing high treason case. Some civilians who enjoy close relationship with establishment also deceive law on their own choice. Others who have enough money don’t have any fear of law as they use corrupt officials for their protection. But the common man faces action by the government if he breaks traffic signal on the road,” he said.
He lauded the services of leading journalist Hamid Mir and other media persons who faced threats but refused to bow down before those elements that wanted to make an end to freedom of expression in the country.
Raza Rabbani hoped that the time would come when pro-democracy and pro-Pakistan people would succeed in introducing a new vision for this country that would certainly embark upon the path of progress and prosperity.
Representative of Reporters Without Borders Iqbal Khattak informed the participants that from December 2016 to February 2017 some 17 journalists have been injured in various incidents while eight received verbal death threats.
“As many as 110 journalists have been murded out of which 80 percent was killed in the incidents of targeted killings. One jouranlist was kidnapped, two faced restrictions while two were fined in last three months,” he said.
Prominent anchor person Hamid Mir said
He recently received the ‘most resilient journalist’ award by the International Free Press and donated the award money worth 15,000 euros to the family members of the martyred journalists.
PFUJ president Afzal Butt failure to end the impunity for killings and other attacks on media professionals only fuels the violence against them as many of them have lost their lives in bomb attacks and target killings by organized crime barons and terrorist organizations.
“The criminal cases should not only be registered but should also be properly investigated and prosecuted against the perpetrators of violence against the media. The special prosecutors on violence against media should be established at federal and provincial level to investigate cases of violence against media,” he said.
He urged the government to comply with its international obligations by investigating journalists’ killings and bringing those responsible to justice, thus deterring future violence.
National Press Club (NPC) president Shakeel Anjum said the media men in Pakistan have been living under state of fear and the government should take concrete steps to ensure their protection in the face of growing threats.
Ali Raza Alvi of Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) said the journalists are unfortunately murdered, killed, detained, abducted, harassed and threatened by various elements and even political and religious groups that claim to promote democracy and the rule of law in the country.
The event was attended by a large number of journalists and people belonging to various segments of the society including Nusrat Javaid, Hafiz Tahir Khalid, Javed Chaudhry, Asma Shirazi and vice chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Shahid Siddique.