Speakers at different seminars, rallies and vigils held in connection with World Press Freedom Day on Thursday stressed the need for a free media to ensure democracy and accountability. Tributes were paid to the media persons who lost their live in the line of duty, while the authorities were urged to provide physical and job security to the journalist community.
“Unless we have a free media it is impossible to sustain and develop democratic norms,” said Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira while addressing a seminar organised by UNESCO. He said that the objective of a political worker and a journalist is the same as both strive for a positive change in the society.
The minister said it is important for every democratic government that puts premium on good governance to take advantage of media’s role as a society’s watchdog. However, he said that media freedom should also act diligently and responsibly.
The government acknowledges that media persons have to face difficulties while performing their duties, and is committed to provide them protection, said Kaira. In this regard, he said a Journalist Victim Fund has been launched to provide financial assistance to the families of victim journalists.
Meanwhile, civil society activists gathered outside National Press Club for a candle vigil for martyred journalists. Approximately 20 journalists came to the vigil to light candles. They chanted slogans for the freedom of the press and for putting and end to journalists’ killings in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. To celebrate the day, a small group of journalists performed traditional dances around the candles to the beat of drums.
World Press Freedom Day is observed annually to highlight that freedom of the press and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights. The day reminds people about the sufferings of journalists to bring daily news to the public. It also gives the chance to pay tribute to media professionals who risked or lost their lives in the line of duty. World Press Freedom Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1993 as an outgrowth of the Seminar on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press.
(News Desk with input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.