Pemra may be used to victimise media

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LAHORE: The media community, civil society and democratic forces will not accept any measures to curb the press freedom, said representatives of various organisations on Wednesday.

The promise came as representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Lahore Press Club and South Asian Free Media Association (Safma) along with print and broadcast journalists met at the South Asian Media Centre and passed a resolution.

The participants condemned the heinous attack on Hamid Mir and threats to other journalists, and the campaign launched by various quarters to harass media persons. Alarmed by increasing tension between the media and security establishment, they rejected any move to gag the media houses and journalists.

The resolution said they were encouraged by the response of the media, working journalists, civil society, political parties and international media community in solidarity with Hamid Mir and other journalists under threat.

It also expressed concerns over the rivalries among various media houses that undermined the freedom of expression and solidarity and security of the journalists’ community.Noting the concerns expressed by the ISPR about the allegations levelled by Hamid Mir’s family members and colleagues indicating the alleged suspects behind the attack, the Safma appreciated the appointment of a judicial commission by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

It showed concerns about the current nominated structure of Pemra, which may be used to victimise one or other media groups. It called for caution and restraint from all sides to let the judicial commission and independent inquiry take its due course to a logical conclusion.

The resolution emphasised that right to life, freedom of expression, fundamental rights, accountability of all, observance of media ethics and security of journalists must be upheld and could not be compromised on any pretext whatsoever. Unity among all sections of media must be kept on issues like freedom of press/ expression and security of journalists, regardless of any kind of differences.

According to the resolution, restrictions and prohibitions on media and harassment of media persons is not to be condoned. A free media, independent judiciary, sovereign parliament and civil and political rights are the imperatives of modern-day nationhood, while civil-military and media-military relations are to be defined within the parameters of democratic values and constitutional framework.

The resolution demanded that an independent inquiry must be ensured and the judicial commission must investigate not only the Hamid Mir case but also all aspects of the conflict between media and security establishment to not only find the real culprits but also propose such measures as could ensure the security of journalists from various quarters. Findings of the judicial commission must be made public and implemented.

It further demanded that all media houses must observe media ethics and demonstrate solidarity on the issues of media freedom and security of media persons, instead of indulging in mudslinging against each other. The media must avoid casting aspersions against any segment of national institutions, while all state institutions must respect right to life and fundamental rights, including press freedom. No measures to curb press freedom will be acceptable to the media community, civil society and democratic forces.

Restraint and caution must be observed by all sides and no interference be allowed in the affairs of the media by various arms of the executive, it said, adding that media should evolve its code of ethics and observe it diligently and Pemra should be reconstituted making it a representative body.Prominent journalists including Imtiaz Alam, Hussain Naqi, Khawar Naeem Hashmi, IA Rahman and Arshad Ansari spoke on the occasion.

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