Freedom of expression shouldn’t be banned: Pervaiz

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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid has said that freedom of expression should not gagged by putting restrictions on it. He said, “Societies that do not let people ask questions and express different opinions suffer from a state of inertia.”

He said it was the government’s responsibility to provide protection to those asking questions and those having a difference of opinion.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid was speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of the Lahore Education Reporters Association (LERA) at the Punjab University here on Saturday.

Merely investment in education would not produce any positive results, he said adding that it was imperative to provide good teachers, quality literature and above all freedom of expression to students.

Later, talking to the media men Pervaiz Rashid said protest was the democratic right of every citizen. However, he added: “This right should not be used for abusing democracy but to strengthen democracy.”

To a question, he said the government was not pressurising anybody or stopping anybody from participating in the May-11 protest being held by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan.

The federal minister said there was no threat to democracy in the country. However, he added there was a threat to those politicians who grew up under the umbrella of dictators.

Pervaiz Rashid said the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government was working on various power projects which could not be carried out in the past 65 years. He claimed that due to these projects 25,000 to 26,000 megawatts of electricity would be available in the country in the coming years.

He said unfortunately ignorance was spread in the name of education in the past, adding that if real education had been provided to children, they would have not been wearing suicide jackets today.

About talks with the Taliban, the minister said there was no pressure on the government from anyone and the country was free to take its own decisions. He said the government wanted to solve all issues through dialogue and all national security institutions and all political parties were onboard in this regard. He said if the incumbent PML-N government had been under pressure from any quarters it could not have carried out atomic explosions in the past.

Answering a question regarding a letter written by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Geo issue, the minister said there was no harm if any authority wanted to seek a legal opinion. He said it was a matter of satisfaction that people now look towards the law instead of deriving support from lawlessness, as witnessed in the past. He said the government believed in the rule of law and decision would be taken only as per law.

Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran, LERA President Arshad Bhatti, General Secretary Sajjad Kazmi, Vice-President Akmal Soomro, Information Secretary Hafiz Ijaz Bashir, Treasurer Zaheer Abbas and Women Wing President Hafsa Fayyaz were present on the occasion.

Earlier the federal minister administered oath to the LERA office-bearers.

Agencies add: Pervaiz Rashid said: “Freedom is incomplete without the right to differ and societies become static without it.”

The minister said the budget for education was an investment into the future, which benefited the next generations, adding had the past generations invested in education today’s Pakistan would have been far better. He said investing in education and setting up universities was not a solution if the people were not given freedom of expression.

He called upon the education reporters to point out the mistakes of the PML-N government in the education sector as mirror shown by the journalists helps the governments rectify their shortcomings.

Responding to the media questions, the information minister said the government had not stopped transporters from providing transport to the PTI May-11 rally.

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