KARACHI: The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) Sunday expressed deep concern over the proposed Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) to be formed under a new media law submitted to the Senate by the federal government to control print, electronic and digital media in the country.
It also pointed out that such a move had caused severe fear and panic within the media because freedom of media, freedom of expression and people’s right to information might be compromised by reinforcing governmental influence and rigid control of media on various pretexts under the garb of proposed media law.
In a joint statement, CPNE President Arif Nizami, Senior Vice President Imtinan Shahid and Secretary-General Dr Jabbar Khattak said it was a deplorable fact that unlike the practice of previous regimes, the present federal government – trampling the traditions – had submitted the proposed law on the media for legislation without consulting the CPNE and other media associations creating the doubt of mala fide intentions of curbing media freedom under the garb of a new media law.
They reminded that in the past during General Ayub Khan’s regime, CPNE, PFUJ, APNS and other media associations, united with pro-democracy political and civil society activists, had compelled the dictator to annul the ill-famed Press and Publications Ordinance.
“Those who dream of imposing their agenda on the media by re-imposing the notorious system of press advice under proposed media law should never forget the fact that with the help of people, past governments were forced to abandon the infamous practice of press advice,” they said, adding that if someone still believed in curbing the freedom of media through any black law, then they were actually mistaken because journalists, media workers, civil society and pro-democracy political workers in Pakistan had the power to get rid of black laws aimed at usurping the freedoms protected by the constitution itself.
They advised the government to abandon the mindset of imposing discriminatory, prejudiced and special laws for the media, and instead create an enabling environment by allowing the media to work freely under the normal and ordinary laws and not to enact any media law without consulting CPNE and other media associations.
The leaders of Pakistan’s premier media body announced that the CPNE would shortly come up with its detailed stance after discussing the proposed law in a meeting of its standing committee.