News Analysis |
Mr. Fawad Chaudhary, Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, said during the session of the National Assembly (NA) that the government made sure unprecedented media freedom in the country. “Media is free now. Nobody can blame the government for making any media house its mouthpiece like the previous governments did to protect their personal political interests,” Mr. Chaudhary said.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is accused of controlling the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and using it to target its political opponents. Prime Minister Khan and his cabinet has always rejected the allegation and maintained that the anti-corruption watchdog and media are independent. Yesterday, the Information Minister once again clarified that there was no media trial being conducted of any politician, adding that the law is equal for anyone and will take its course.
The PTI government, unlike of PPP and PML-N, allowing dissenters to appear on the state-run and private TV channels and criticize the government. “This is the beauty of democracy,” says Mr. Chaudhary.
The government was appreciated by journalists and experts the day it announced the end of political censorship on the state-run media. It was announced on the August 21st by the Information Minister that “as per vision, [of Prime Minister] Imran Khan ended political censorship on PTV, clear instructions issued for a complete editorial independence on PTV and Radio Pakistan, drastic changes will be visible in information department in coming three months.”
As per vision of @ImranKhanPTI Ended political censorship on PTV, clear instructions issued for a complete editorial independence on PTV and Radio Pakistan, drastic changes ll be visible in Information Dept in coming 3 months Inshallah
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) August 21, 2018
The International Press Institute (IPI) — a global network of editors, media executives, and leading journalists —welcomed the decision of the PTI-led government to lift censorship on the state-run media. In a press statement released on 25th August, IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said: “The announcement by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan that state media will be allowed editorial independence appears to be an important step towards restoring respect for press freedom in Pakistan.”
Right after assuming the office, Mr. Chaudhary promised that the official media of the country which includes Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), PTV, and Radio Pakistan would be improved and made independent with no political interference drawing parallels to foreign media outlets. Mr. Chaudhary also assured to depoliticize the national news broadcaster and expressed making it independent like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
It is worth mentioning here that during the reign of the previous government PTV remained only a mouthpiece of the government. There was no coverage of speeches made by the opposition leaders in the NA and protests and press conferences held by the political rivals of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PTI was one of the main opposition parties criticizing the PML-N’s policy of control and misuse of the state-run media throughout its tenure.
Experts argue that it is pivotal to have an independent media in a real democracy to safeguard the public interest. Therefore, the steps being taken by PM Khan are seen as steps towards strengthening Pakistani democracy. It is also noted that media houses and anchors are free to criticize the government and point out the flaws. The PTI government, unlike PPP and PML-N, allowing dissenters to appear on the state-run and private TV channels and criticize the government. “This is the beauty of democracy,” says Mr. Chaudhary.