Fazl sees media authority bill as tool to gag press

Published September 4, 2021
ISLAMABAD: PDM leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks at the National Press Club on Friday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: PDM leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaks at the National Press Club on Friday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) head and chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government wanted to stifle the voice of media through the media authority bill.

But he would support journalist community in their struggle for press freedom, said the chief of the PDM, an alliance of some opposition parties, at a media briefing here at the National Press Club.

The Maulana said that journalism had always prospered and progressed in democracy but dictators and monarchs always wanted to read and watch what suited only them, with the result that journalism was targeted in dictatorships and monarchies. However, he also highlighted the need for reforms in journalism, establishment, bureaucracy and politics. He urged all institutions to operate within their constitutional limits as the role of each institution was defined in the Constitution.

While urging the journalist community to do factual and balanced reporting, the PDM chief said journalism was imperative for democracy.

PDM chief vows to back journalists in their struggle for press freedom

He then alleged there was a state institution that considered itself superior, explaining that dictatorial mindset had been flourishing in Pakistan while the decline in democracy had accelerated. He said the country had been facing many challenges and held politicians responsible for this chaos. After public meetings, rallies and struggles, the political parties ended up making compromises, he added.

“They [the establishment] know politicians will compromise with them for the sake of power,” the Maulana claimed, adding that it seemed no one was giving due importance to Pakistan.

The PDM chief said there was need to strengthen Pakistan’s economy. The PTI government had made false claims of providing millions of jobs and houses, he said. He claimed that PTI government’s policies had rendered tens of thousands of people jobless besides resulting in demolition of a large number of houses.

The PDM chief was accompanied by PFUJ secretary general Nasir Zaidi, RIUJ press freedom action committee chairman Afzal Butt, NPC president Shakeel Anjum, secretary Anwar Raza, RIUJ president Amir Sajjad Syed and general secretary Tariq Ali.

Speaking on the occasion, Nasir Zaidi said: “We will break the chains with our strong arms as freedom of press and rule of law is very important for the development of Pakistan.”

The RIUJ press freedom action committee chairman earlier briefed the Maulana on the demands of journalists and said the media bill was a conspiracy against the freedom of press.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021

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