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

No pardon for rape
Updated 07 Feb, 2023

No pardon for rape

Cultural filters and biases can often lead to faulty applications of the law.
Health insurance
07 Feb, 2023

Health insurance

THE planning ministry is reported to have raised objections to Punjab’s flagship universal health coverage...
The people’s demands
07 Feb, 2023

The people’s demands

AS the people of KP are literally on the frontline of the battle against terrorism and violent extremism, they are...
The Musharraf enigma
Updated 06 Feb, 2023

The Musharraf enigma

The Musharraf era holds numerous lessons for Pakistan’s ruling elite, civilian and military.
Staying neutral
06 Feb, 2023

Staying neutral

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has what is perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the country. The countless...
Wikipedia ban
06 Feb, 2023

Wikipedia ban

THE country was back in a familiar, dark place last week when the PTA blocked Wikipedia over the charge that it...