Marriyum praises role of media for democracy

Political leaders acknowledge sacrifices of journalists

Haseeb Hanif/Zafar Ali Sipra February 22, 2018
Says government acknowledges the role of media as watchdog of society PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that the dynamic and independent media of this age has used their pen and screen to obstruct those who planned to derail democracy.

The minister said this while addressing a conference on the challenges facing the country and the role of media. The conference was organised by the Council of Newspaper Editors (CPNE).

She said the access to information bill has been passed and the government is working to end useless cases between PEMRA and media owners. The prime minister, she added, has approved proposals, including the CPNE House, and ordered their immediate implementation.

PML-N to facilitate responsible, free media says Marriyum

“It is necessary that democracy survive, that the basic direction of the country is set and the constitutional limits of institutions are followed,” she said.

The state minister said the government will get the protection of journalists’ bill approved from parliament and representatives of journalists will be included in PEMRA.

The seminar was also addressed by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, JI Amir Sirajul Haque, PTI leader Shibli Faraz, MNA Asad Umer, PPP leader Sherry Rehman, ANP leader Afrasayab Khattak, CPNE General Secretary Aijazul Haque, CPNE President Zia Shahid, CPNE Senior Vice President Shaheen Qureshi, senior members Rehmat Ali Razi, Mehtab Khan, Ikram Sehgal, Dr Jabbar Khattak, Ayaz Khan, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, Tahir Farooq, Qazi Asad Abid, Mushtaq Ahmed Qureshi, Irfan Athar, Kazim Khan, Abdul Rehman Mangrio and Ahmed Iqbal Baloch as well as senior journalists, political, social and academic personalities.

CPNE Vice President Amir Mehmood moderated the event.

Marriyum said that CPNE organised a discussion on a very important topic. She applauded journalists for defending democracy against all attacks made in the darkness of the night, during the last four and a half years.

She agreed that the biggest problem for the journalists at present is security, for which the ministry has discussed issues including code of conduct, regulations and PEMRA. “This will aid the media regulatory authority to spend money on the training of journalists saved from unnecessary litigations,” she added.

The access to information bill could only be passed by a democratic government, said the state minister, adding that issues like the constitutional role of institutions were discussed for the first time in the media, but media organisations are still struggling to maintain their utility.

She also termed CPEC the key to success and welcomed the media’s positive role in reporting on it. The journalists also can benefit from the Information Services Academy where the whole syllabus has been revised. “The doors of the ministry are always open for journalists,” she said.

Marriyum also congratulated CPNE on completing 60 years.

Also addressing the conference, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the sacred profession of journalism flourished during democracy and cannot be thought of without honesty. He said mudslinging in national politics has been prevailing for a long time.

Amir JI Sirajul Haque said maintaining the supremacy of the law is the biggest problem in the country. “We all must fight against price hike and corruption and need to solve the problems of the common man,” he said, adding that the media played a crucial role in ensuring the same otherwise the case of Zainab would not have been highlighted.

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Senator Sherry Rehman talked about how politics and democracy “go hand in hand”. She said Pakistan is a nuclear power but is facing problems on internal, external and economic fronts.

“An artificial crisis is being created,” she said, adding that the country is facing a deficit of $12 billion. She urged media owners to reduce pressure on journalists.

Senator Shibli Faraz said media will have to exercise self-accountability. “Crises occur in other countries as well, but the institutions there handle them. Justice should not be selective,” he said.

CPNE President Zia Shahid said that journalists have continued their journey despite sacrifices.

A journalist cannot be anti-democratic, he said, adding that the present CPNE leadership has taken many steps, including press meets, to end the atmosphere of clash between the institutions.

Senior CPNE members Mehtab Khan said the seminar was necessary under such circumstances while Ikram Sehgal applauded the local media as the most independent and said that despite some issues, “we need to focus on the brighter side”.

ANP leader Afrasayab Khattak said parliament is supreme and only people’s support can save its status.

Jabbar Khattak said all must remain within their boundaries while Shaheen Qureshi called media a true mirror of society which still faces pressure.