Journalists begin protest against govt’s PMDA move

Published September 13, 2021
JOURNALISTS raise slogans during their sit-in outside the Parliament House on Sunday.—Mohammad Asim / White Star
JOURNALISTS raise slogans during their sit-in outside the Parliament House on Sunday.—Mohammad Asim / White Star

ISLAMABAD: Protesting against the government’s plan to bulldoze the Pakis­tan Media Development Autho­rity (PMDA) legislation through a joint sitting of parliament, the journalist fraternity began a sit-in outside the Parliament House here on Sunday evening.

The protesting journalists marched from the National Press Club and reached outside the Parliament House where they planned to stay overnight, as they said the sit-in would continue till President Dr Arif Alvi’s address to the joint session of parliament, which is scheduled to assemble at 4pm on Monday (today).

Addressing the protesters, senior journalists representing various associations of media workers vowed to resist the government move to enforce the PMDA, terming it an effort to gag the press.

The protest call was given by various journalist bodies, headed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).

Fraternity members continue to hold sit-in outside Parliament House overnight

PFUJ general secretary Nasir Zaidi in his speech said the journalist community had rejected the proposed PMDA because it was meant to stifle the voice of media.

Senior journalist Afzal Butt said many attempts had been made in the past too to silence the media by dictators, but journalists successfully fought for their rights and this time too, the journalist community would protect freedom of the press.

The government through the PMDA was trying to impose ‘media martial law’, said senior journalist Imtiaz Alam. He reminded the relevant authorities that in digital age one could not stop fake news until journalists were allowed to work independently and speak the truth.

The protesting journalists were of the opinion that the government through the proposed media authority was attempting to abolish the Newspapers Employees Act as well.

Solidarity with journalists

Several politicians, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N information sec­retary Marriyum Aurangzeb and MNA Mohsin Dawar, visited the protesting camp and expressed solidarity with journalists.

Just a day ago, the Parlia­mentary Reporters Association had announced that reporters would boycott the presidential address in protest against the proposed media authority.

Also, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had recently announced its support for journalists in their fight against the proposed media authority. SCBA president Latif Afridi was of the opinion that ‘power brokers’ were striving to enslave the media and judiciary in Pakistan and the proposed PMDA was one of the channels to achieve this nefarious design.

Similarly, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed serious concern over the proposed authority.

Former information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb in a series of tweets said Imran Khan had abused the state machinery to block democratic and peaceful protest by journalists across the country against the PMDA black law. She reminded the nation that the same PTI had staged a 120-day sit-in at D-Chowk, attacked, battered and wounded policemen, hung dirty laundry on the august building of the Supreme Court, cursed parliament, attacked the Prime Minister House, gave a call for civil disobedience and asked people to reject formal banking channels and conduct financial transactions through hundi to sabotage national economy.

However, she added, the same PTI did not allow journalists their right to peaceful protest and deployed scores of security personnel and put up barricades to prevent protests against the tyrannical media development authority legislation that seeks to gag news media and silence the truth.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...