Actions against Freedom of Press: Bilawal, Chaudhry Shujaat, Fazlur Rehman express concern

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Actions against Freedom of Press: Bilawal, Chaudhry Shujaat, Fazlur Rehman express concern

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President and former prime minister Ch Shujaat Hussain has written to Prime Minister Imran Khan wherein he has stated that the information minister be directed to sit with TV channel owners and sort out issues because distance with media is causing loss to the PM.

About ban on the Channel 24, Shujaat said: “As head of an ally party, I am writing this letter to you. Hope you will not take it in the context of criticism. Distances are created between the government and the media due to which those creating distances incur no loss, rather the loss is yours.” He said the media is the fourth pillar of the state and for stability of the state, this pillar essentially be also stable, confrontation with the media is not appropriate in any case. “I had earlier informed you about the arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and am now writing a letter on the suspension of the Channel 24 licence. The impression is gaining strength that the fourth pillar of the state is being targeted, the right to freedom of expression given in the Constitution is being curbed, whereas the motherland is already confronting crises.

He said: “When I was the prime minister, then information minister Sh Rashid came to me with a summary in which it was written that whosoever deposits Rs 50 lakh fee for a TV licence, he should be given the licence without any obstruction. Then as the prime minister, I had said Rs 50 lakh fee is not required. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is required wherein any news against the government should be tolerated with patience but there should be no compromise on any story against the national interest. Some days back, I had asked Senator Shibli Faraz that you are the son of Ahmad Faraz. Hopefully you will tread on the footsteps of your father because your father is looked upon with respect in every sphere of life.”

Shujat said all matters can be solved through understanding. “Hopefully, you will ask the information minister to solve all matters with all TV channel owners by sitting around the table. Their dues should be cleared so that media workers can be paid their salaries. The step to suspend the Channel 24 be withdrawn forthwith so that media workers are saved from unemployment because solution to all problems lies with the supremacy of the Constitution and law,” he told the PM.

Meanwhile, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday condemned firing on journalists during a protest outside the Pemra offices and unjustified arrest of Geo/Jang Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and said the government had once again attacked the media freedom.

The journalists were protesting against the closure of Channel 24 outside the Pemra offices. “We condemn this attack, as it is against the freedom of the media and democracy. It is a tradition of the PTI that they are attacking the freedom of the media since they come into power. First, they made an economic attack on the media workers and channels,” he said. Bilawal said the government arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and now closed the Channel 24.

“They fired on journalists who were protesting against the closure of Channel 24 and restrictions on the media,” he said. Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the government was tergetting media by attacking Geo News or arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, and now 24 News has closed.

Talking to media in Larkana, he said that they express solidarity with the media, warning other channels that the government could hit them too. He said that the government wanted to control media after the fashion of martial law but it will fail in its attempt.

Newspaper: The News