Active collaboration with global giants required to regulate social media: Fawad Chaudhry

Published November 22, 2018
The information minister says relying on the government to run media businesses was not a feasible idea and said the government was already under a "heavy burden of debts". —PID
The information minister says relying on the government to run media businesses was not a feasible idea and said the government was already under a "heavy burden of debts". —PID

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said that the government, in light of recent events, wants to regulate social media, but "this won't be possible until it develops a relationship with "international [social media] giants".

He was speaking at the 'National Security, Nation Building and Mass Media' conference in Islamabad.

Chaudhry said that a few weeks back, when "certain incidents" were taking place in the country, the government considered regulating social media. "Government wants to regulate social media which is not possible without an active collaboration with global social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others."

During his address, Chaudhry said that Pakistan was the most deregulated country in terms of media in the world and added that the biggest danger to media was the business model of media organisations, Radio Pakistan reported.

The information minister said relying on the government to run media businesses was not a feasible idea and said that the government was already under a "heavy burden of debts".

He added that it was not the government's job to support media businesses.

He added that international companies — such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram — have research and development budgets which are more than the total budgets of countries like Pakistan.

"We have to see how much we can cope with international regulations and over time the international regulations will govern the rules of national regulations," he was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.

The information minister said efforts are afoot to merge the academies of Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television Corporation as part of proposed Pakistan Media University that will "act as a main institution to impart training to students as well as working professionals".

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi speaks at a seminar. —DawnNewsTV
Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi speaks at a seminar. —DawnNewsTV

Earlier, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi also spoke at the conference, urging the media to play its due role when it comes to national security.

Afridi took aim at prevalent media policies, stressing that safeguarding the national security is not just the responsibility of soldiers manning borders but the entire society.

"Till when will we continue trying to alter our norms to please goras [foreigners]," he said. "Why do we need to amplify our narrative?"

The state minister claimed that news regarding Aasia Bibi gets its due attention in the media but the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and the government's efforts to repatriate her gets largely overlooked.

The minister complained that misinformation was being spread about himself and the government, especially since he has started taking initiatives against corrupt elements.

He pointed out what he thought were shortcomings on the part of the media, and claimed that the positive aspects of the country do not always get highlighted.

The state minister asked the nation to give more time to the federal government, instead of asking for accountability over the first 100 days in power.

Shehryar Afridi said: "We are being asked for results. Let me assure you, we will answer for each and every penny [we spend]. Give us some time. We will set examples for the next generations. For heaven's sake, don't jump to conclusions."

The PTI leader also discussed the recent protests that erupted in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision to acquit Aasia Bibi of blasphemy charges.

"We did not understand the Sharia of Allah Almighty and the Prophet (PBUH)," he said. "Prime Minister Imran Khan took an initiative to make the world realise that the pretext of freedom of expression should not be used for the defamation of any religion."

Afridi also touched upon civil-military relations, saying close coordination between the two is the need of the hour.

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