News Analysis |
In meeting of the Senate Standing committee regarding Information and Broadcasting earlier last Tuesday, representatives of the media community voiced their objections to apparent censorship of their activites in certain areas. While journalists and media tycoons were thus embroiled with the Information ministry, Political parties and personalities were busy criticizing the media houses for coverage.
The Senate Standing Committee meeting was held under the chair of Senator Faisal Javed and attended by Senator Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Rubina Khalid. The house heard out President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Afzal Butt and President Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) Mubarak Zeb Khan. Afzal Butt was concerned about the past when dictatorial regimes prevented certain stories or photographs from being aired or published.
Senator Rubina Khalid said the question has been raised regarding the fairness of the upcoming elections. PFUJ president expressed intent of involving the defense secretary in case the appointed offices were not authorized to take action.
While the bureaucracy was strengthened in such times, it came at an expensive cost to Pakistan’s democratic credibility both domestically and globally. The main issue discussed was the prevention of circulation of Dawn media group transmissions within cantonment board areas. The call for opposing un-announced censorship is on journalists and media houses, added Mr. Butt, who mentioned that it was political parties who were raising objections over media coverage.
Earlier DG ISPR had dismissed any such allegations regarding media censorship in certain areas under the armed forces bureaucracy. But Mubarak Zaib said that preventing Talat Hussain and Babar Sattar from publishing in columns are solid proof of censorship which along with an end in distribution of the Dawn newspaper in cantonment areas reduced the legitimacy of the DG’sstatements.
On part of the Ministry of Information, Secretary Ahmed Nawaz said no censorship has been committed by the caretaker government and the entire duty of the interim ministers and officers is to remain impartial for the upcoming ‘free and fair elections’. Apart from the usual code of conduct implemented by the ruling government, the restrictions PEMRA imposed remain legal under the Pakistani constitution.
While journalists and media tycoons were thus embroiled with the Information ministry, Political parties and personalities were busy criticizing the media houses for coverage.
He also added that in case any media outlet was to be censored or penalized, the Ministry would target the advertisement coverage for such firms. So far no such action has been taken and Dawn group has also not filed any complaint. Senator Rubina Khalid said the question has been raised regarding the fairness of the upcoming elections.
PFUJ president expressed intent of involving the defense secretary in case the appointed offices were not authorized to take action. He said free and fair polls were not possible without an independent media. The chairman of the committee ruled on the matter by forwarding it to the federal cabinet to take measure of the situation.