ISLAMABAD: Observing that media freedom was one of the most important pillars of democracy, the Pakistan Peoples Party on Saturday said there was a dire need for substantive legislation to protect the journalist community.

“The PPP has and will always stand by the journalists in the country. No democracy can thrive without a free press,” PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said during a meeting with members of the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF). The proposed Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2020 came under discussion during the meeting. The bill aims to build an effective safety mechanism for freedom of expression for journalists.

The meeting was attended by Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Information, Law and Environment Murtaza Wahab, PPF’s Fellowship Editor Ghazala Fasih and secretary general Owais Aslam Ali.

The Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2020 was prepared by the ministry of human rights last year in February.

Senator says no democracy can thrive without a free press

“We need a robust provincial law to protect our journalists who face unprecedented levels of threat and violence by the federal government. Promoting the safety of journalists and combating impunity for those who attack them is the need of the hour,” noted Senator Rehman.

She pointed out that in the World Press Freedom Index for 2020, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 180 countries.

“Today, journalists are being intimidated, threatened, censored and punished. The PTI government is finding new ways to silence media workers,” she said.

“Protecting journalism is what PPP stands for. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has clearly stated that we need to introduce progressive laws to protect and safeguard our journalists,” she added.

Sherry Rehman recommended another consultative meeting to discuss the proposed bill with senior journalists in Karachi.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021

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