LAHORE: Politicians, journalists and policymakers called on the government to take effective measures to do away with the fake news phenomenon and legislate to handle unbridled content on mainstream and social media.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), International Federation of Journalists and Center for Democracy and Climate Studies organised a seminar on “Role of PFUJ in Ensuring Press Freedom, Discouraging Fake News and Implementing Media Laws.”

The PFUJ leadership asked the government to approach them along with evidence in case any institution had any complaint against any news anchor.

They also called for equal air time to all the political parties setting aside the personal biases.

The speakers called for implementation of Article 19 of the Constitution which says “every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.”

They also demanded enforcement of the Article 19A of the Constitution which says “the right to information (RTI) is the fundamental right of citizens, allowing them to access information from government and private bodies that receive public funds. RTI is based on the principle that information belongs to the people and public officials are only the custodians of the information.”

PFUJ Secretary General Rana Azeem blamed the social media for unbridled content. Punjab Senior Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said the media owners were toeing their agenda which was against the journalistic principles.

Punjab Chief Minister Adviser on Information Omar Sarfaraz Cheema claimed the PTI government had never gagged the media.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch said his party always struggled for the protection of journalist community’s rights.

PPP’s Shehzad Cheema said his party always struggled for the freedom of the npress.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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