ISLAMABAD: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has rejected the proposal to establish media tribunals and asked the government to refrain from making ‘such dictatorial black laws’.
“Any attempt to curb media would not be accepted and extreme action would be taken. The government would be responsible for it,” said a statement issued after a CPNE’s Standing Committee meeting held on Thursday at the CPNE Karachi Secretariat.
Senior editors from all over Pakistan and representatives of political parties attended the meeting. According to the statement, the council will issue a detailed handout on Friday (today) regarding its future strategy.
The meeting resolved that all stakeholders including the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and others would be consulted and joint struggle would be launched against discriminatory media tribunals.
The CPNE President Arif Nizami said discriminatory tribunals are not acceptable in any way as the council believes that such idea is contrary to the fundamentals of media freedom as well as democracy.
“Such attempts will be considered attacks on media freedom and a part of continued efforts to curb press freedom, which will be resisted” he added.
He said the council was expecting that a prime minister who has come through political process would definitely take steps for media freedom but unfortunately these expectations did not turn true. “We have got media freedom after a long struggle and sacrifices, so it could not be compromised any way.”
He said he would contact all stakeholders – including the APNS, the PBA and the PFUJ – for the cause of media freedom and he is confident that discriminatory idea of tribunals would be shelved.
Sindh Minister for Women Development and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Shehla Raza said the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has already rejected media courts. “We should remind the PM that such acts are against media freedom as he always understands things at later stage,” she said.
She said the PPP would oppose such move in the parliament because it believes in democracy and free press. The Sindh Assembly lawmaker Jamal Siddiqui, who belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said the PTI believes in democracy and media freedom and they would continue supporting free press.
“If there are weaknesses in proposed media tribunals, then CPNE should share its recommendations and, those would be incorporated but at some point we need regulations,” he said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Sindh President Shah Muhammad Shah said the present government is worse than martial law. “The PML-N would stand for media freedom and would oppose media tribunals at all forums including the parliament,” he said.
The CPNE Secretary General Dr Jabbar Khattak said discriminatory laws should be challenged at all forums and the CPNE would ally with all stakeholders for the elimination of media tribunals.
“There will be no compromise on media freedom and members of parliament should fulfill their duty to oppose such discriminatory laws,” he said.