The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) expressing concern over the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) directive regarding reporting of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) activities has termed it as a “transgression of the canons of press freedom and free speech”.
The CPNE asserted that Pemra has, through this directive, barred the TV channel administrations from airing all analysis and comments regarding NAB activities in their current affairs programmes and news bulletins.
The CPNE declared the Pemra directive a grave violation of Article 19 and sub-clause 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that guarantees the common citizen's inalienable right to information.
The meeting also expressed extreme disquiet at the federal government's unceasing anti-media attempts through ever-newer means and actions.
This stance was confirmed in a resolution adopted at a CPNE standing committee meeting chaired by the CPNE President, Arif Nizami. The virtual meeting was held through video-link in view of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting reviewed and discussed at length the on-ground situation regarding press freedom, the difficulties faced by the newspapers and the new payment system for advertisement adopted by the government through CPNE efforts.
Assuring full support to the new mechanism devised by the federal government as well as Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments, for the payment of outstanding to the media, satisfaction was expressed over the commencement of direct payments to newspapers.
CPNE Vice-President Sardar Khan Niazi said that certain ill-famed elements were actively involved in conspiracies against the agreed-upon system adopted at the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He, however, hoped that the premier and the federal information minister would not let these conspiracies succeed.
The meeting resolved that if the new system for payments to newspapers for government advertisement is altered the CPNE will forcefully resist any such attempt. The opponents of the new media-friendly system of payments in fact wish to restore the previous corrupt practices whereby, since several decades, the billions of rupees from the public exchequer allocated for the media were rerouted to the coffers of the corrupt elements. These were the ill practices that created the acute financial crises for Pakistani media.
Discussing the Punjab media policy and Punjab Publications Bill 2020, Vice-President Irshad Ahmed Arif told the meeting that CPNE has forwarded its proposals to the provincial government and recommended to the Punjab Information Department to frame solid and coordinated policy in this regard. Furthermore, he said, the Punjab government has also commenced directed payments to the newspapers.
On this occasion, Joint Secretary Tahir Farooq said that the K-P government has started direct payments under the new system and the provincial information department is also making payments to the newspapers. However, it is essential that payments should be made at a fixed date so that the newspaper establishment and the journalists should not face financial uncertainties.
He also demanded that the provincial KEPRA tax on K-P newspapers should be abolished as promised by the chief minister last year.
Joint Secretary Ghulam Nabi Chandio expressed grave concern on extreme delay in payment of dues by the Sindh government and the unjust distribution of government advertisements. He demanded urgent and solid policymaking for timely payments as well as transparent, self-regulatory and just distribution of government advertisements.
The standing committee, on the recommendations of the provincial committees, also approved a number of membership requests.
On the recommendation of the Punjab Committee, Daily Afaq Lahore, Daily Pal Pal News Lahore, Daily Payam-e-Waqt Lahore, Daily Qadamat Lahore, Daily Siyasi Dost Lahore, Daily Rehbar Bahawalpur, Daily Sada-e-Pakistan Bahawalpur, Daily Sang-e-Meel Bahawalpur, Roznama 92 News Faisalabad, Daily Almanzoor Dera Ghazi Khan, Daily Multan Post Multan, Roznama 92 News Multan, Daily Safeer-e-Punjab Multan, Daily Cholistan Times Rahimyar Khan, Daily Jamhooristan Sahiwal, Roznama 92 News Sargodha, Daily Dar-ul-Khabar Vehari, Daily Sangram Vehari, Monthly Dhamak Lahore and Weekly Zaban-e-Khalq Bahawalpur, The memberships approved on the recommendation of Islamabad/Rawalpindi were Daily Aajir Rawalpindi, Daily Akhbar-e-Haq Islamabad, Daily District News Rawalpindi, Daily Multi News Islamabad, Daily Parliament Times Islamabad, Roznama 92 News Islamabad, Daily Urdu Times Islamabad and Monthly Waqt Islamabad and On the recommendation of Sindh Committee, Roznama 92 News Karachi, Daily News Lark Karachi and Daily Ekta Karachi were got District Associate Membership. The decisions on other applications will be done after due diligence.
The meeting was attended by CPNE President Arif Nizami, Secretary General Dr Jabbar Khattak, Vice Presidents Sardar Khan Niazi, Irshad Ahmed Arif, Dr Hafiz Sanaullah Khan, Deputy Secretary General Aamer Mahmood, former secretary general Aijazul Haq, Finance Secretary Syed Hamid Hussain Abidi, Information Secretary Abdul Rahman Mangrio, Joint Secretaries Tahir Farooq, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, Arif Baloch, Tanveer Shaukat, Shakeel Ahmed Turabi, Senior Members Kazam Khan, Maqsood Yousufi, Saeed Khawar, Khalil-ur-Rehman, Mumtaz Ahmed Sadiq, Abdul Khalique Ali, Muhammad Tahir, Muhammad Akmal Chohan, Faqir Manthar Mangrio, Zulfiqar Ahmed Rahat, Sher Muhammad Khuhawar, Zia Tanoli, Ahmed Shafiq, Tazeen Akhtar, Zubair Mehmood, Waqas Tariq Farooq, Sardar Naeem, Muhammad Arshad Roohani, Abid Aleem, Munnaza Seham and several others through video link.