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

Updated 21 May, 2022

Band-aid measure

A more pronounced impact would have been possible had the cap on energy prices been removed.
21 May, 2022

Bilawal’s defence

BILAWAL Bhutto-Zardari’s robust defence at the UN headquarters of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Feb 24 trip...
21 May, 2022

Yasin Malik’s conviction

THE conviction of veteran Kashmiri freedom fighter and head of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik by an...
Updated 20 May, 2022

TTP peace talks

ANOTHER attempt to sue for peace with the outlawed TTP is being made, again facilitated by the Afghan Taliban that...
20 May, 2022

Beyond the law

THE senior judiciary should take care not to overreach in its zeal to ‘fix’ issues it ideally need not worry...
20 May, 2022

Political musical chairs

YET another political crisis is brewing in Balochistan, where old rivals Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Sardar Yar...