Protecting journalists

Published May 30, 2021

THE passage of The Sindh Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners Bill, 2021, by the provincial assembly on Friday can only be described as a step in the right direction where official safeguards for the media fraternity are concerned.

There is little doubt that those associated with journalism work in less than ideal circumstances in the country, including in Sindh. Truth-telling does not go down well with powerful actors — state and non-state — and many journalists have paid with their lives simply for doing their job. In fact, just this past March, journalist Ajay Lalwani was gunned down in the Sukkur town of Salehpat; there has been little progress in the case. More recently, journalist Asad Toor was roughed up by unknown attackers in the federal capital.

Read | Media in chains: The cost of speaking truth to power in South Asia

Some of the highlights of the bill include the fact that mediapersons will not be bound to divulge their sources while a commission has been envisaged to protect journalists. The legislation also states that those who harass mediapersons will be held to account.

The Sindh administration deserves kudos for passing a law to protect journalists. The centre has also tabled the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill, 2021, in the National Assembly, and KP also plans to table a bill designed to protect mediapersons in the provincial assembly. However, while the passage of laws is welcome, their implementation is what really matters.

As international press freedom bodies have noted, Pakistan is amongst the most difficult places in the world for journalists to carry out their professional duties. To truly create an atmosphere where a free press can thrive, those who harass and kill mediapersons must be brought to book. Along with the Ajay Lalwani case, the killing of journalist Aziz Memon, who was slain in Naushahro Feroze last year, remains unresolved. It is hoped that with the passage of Sindh’s law, the authorities work with new vigour to punish the elements that intend to harm journalists and prevent them from doing their job.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

UNGA speech
25 Sep, 2022

UNGA speech

CRISES test a nation’s resilience but also provide opportunities to rise and move forward. Prime Minister Shehbaz...
Dar’s return
Updated 25 Sep, 2022

Dar’s return

Dar will now be expected by his party to conjure up fiscal space for the govt to start spending ahead of the next elections.
Iran hijab protests
25 Sep, 2022

Iran hijab protests

FOR over a week now, Iran has been witnessing considerable tumult after a young woman died earlier this month in the...
Post-flood economy
Updated 24 Sep, 2022

Post-flood economy

WITH a third of the country — especially Sindh and Balochistan — under water, over 33m people displaced, and...
Panadol shortage
24 Sep, 2022

Panadol shortage

FROM headaches to fever to bodily pain — paracetamol is used ubiquitously in Pakistan as the go-to remedy for most...
Star-struck cops
24 Sep, 2022

Star-struck cops

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if ...