Firdous brushes aside media curb speculations

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Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said, “The government des not intend to curb media freedom as democracy and media independence go hand in hand.”
In a statement, she said the government wanted to empower media to strengthen democracy. Media without law and democracy without media freedom could not flourish, she added.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government strongly believed in freedom of expression and media, but the freedom must be coupled with responsibility and in conformity with societal norms, she said. “The credit of lifting curbs on media imposed by the previous dictatorial regime goes to the present government,” she observed.
Brushing aside the impression created by a news item regarding the imposition of sanctions on media, she said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had always framed laws to facilitate media but not to put curbs on the media freedom.
She said the government was in constant liaison with the stakeholders concerned before making or formulating any policy, law or regulations.
There is not a single clause in the proposed content regulations that could be presumed anti-media. All the media rules and regulations either framed or amended had been in consultation with the stakeholders, so the government could not curb or muzzle the media which was its own creation and for which the PEMRA had been given the mandate to flourish, the minister said.
“The government witnesses hue and cry from civil society and stakeholders on daily basis whereby the PEMRA is criticised for not discharging its functions adequately. On the contrary, whenever it takes initiatives in the interest of public, country or media itself, accusations of media curbs are levelled against the government and the PEMRA,” she observed.
She said it was unfortunate that each and every step of the government was perceived negative and propagated as arbitrary sanctions on media.
“It is never appreciated that the present democratic government has been the biggest proponent of self-regulation and the massive spurt of electronic media that the country has witnessed today is the result of the government’s media-friendly policies.
“Policies are adopted and implemented by the licensees on their own and the PEMRA or the government has never intervened in the freedom of media,” the minister claimed. She said there was no harm if the request was made to media to ensure balanced, objective and unbiased converge and to preserve the sanctity of religions, sects, ethical values, morality and decency.

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