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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Pakistan rejects HRW’s claims on PMDA

Spokesperson Maliha Shahid has rejected claims made by Human Rights Watch group that says Pakistan is working on a secret Media regulatory body.

A spokesperson of the Pakistani Embassy has brushed aside a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based watchdog body, about Pakistani government plans to set up the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) through an ordinance, saying the claim was “factually incorrect.”

“There is no plan to introduce the regulatory body through an ordinance,” Spokesperson Maliha Shahid said in a letter to HRW’s Associated Asia Editor, Patricia Grossman, who has claimed that through such a body the government is seeking broad new powers to control the media.

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The spokesperson regretted that Ms Grossman did not even bother to check the factual position from the concerned authorities.

“Presently, over a half dozen outdated laws and set of rules are being implemented through multiple bodies to regulate media which do not match with the modern-day requirements of ‘converged media’,” Ms Shahid said, adding that there was a need to introduce holistic policy responses to the challenges of fake news, disinformation, hate speech, abusive content, privacy issues, copyright violations in the emerging information communication technologies.

“Hence, as per global best practices an independent regulatory body — Pakistan Media Development Authority — is under consideration for addressing challenges and requirements for convergent media environment of the 21st century to make Pakistan a major global centre for multimedia information and content services,” the embassy spokesperson said.


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PMDA, she said, would ensure freedom, empowerment and development of media in Pakistan.

“No criminal liability is being considered under the proposed media regulatory framework,” Ms Shahid emphasized, pointing out that the government has been discussing the proposed regulatory framework with all stakeholders for many months.

In this regard, she said, a series of consultative meetings have been held with media owners, editors, working journalists, anchorpersons, press clubs, civil society etc.

Further, according to the spokesperson, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain gave a detailed presentation to a joint meeting of Senate and National Assembly Standing Committees on Information and Broadcasting as well as to the federal cabinet, “which negates the story that the proposed bill is being kept secret.”


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Via APP with additional inputs from GVS