Growth of free, independent media in Pakistan


Today, we are living in the age of information. With the advent of modern technologies and social media, it is impossible to ignore the rapid growing need for information in every walk of life. Nowadays everyone is dependent on quick, easy and reliable source of information for their effective and efficient working. Now, the world has become a global village and information is not less than lifeblood to all government officials, politicians, agriculturists, businessmen, industrialists, stock market professionals, academicians, teachers and even layman citizens. The information is directly linked with the inevitable media growth across the world. Today the media is altogether a different entity as it used to be in the past. The vibrant, independent and responsible media is inevitable to nurture democratic societies.
Last dictatorial regime ended up with dreadful draconian media laws in 2007, which proved to be the direct violation of the Article 19 of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Musharraf regime in the garb of emergency took action against TV channels and FM radios by raiding their offices, issuing show cause notices, and confiscating equipment on several occasions. Pakistan’s television industry came to a grinding halt after the government blocked all transmission as President Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on this South Asian country. Curbs were imposed on the media through amendments in two ordinances.
Pakistan Peoples Party believes in the freedom of expression and we consider it as an equivalent to the greater freedom for the country itself. We are not afraid of fair criticism from the Media which ensures that the government remains on track to develop the country and its people. We consider media as a watchdog of the interests of the people. Following the footsteps of its philosophy, envisioned by its shaheed leaders, the government repealed draconian media related laws and ensured free access of people to information through amending laws and implementing those which already existed in the law books. No journalist, poet or writer was put behind bars for opposing the government nor were any restrictions imposed on TV channels or censorship on newspapers.
Pakistan, like all other democratic countries believe in access to Information and freedom of speech as envisaged in its constitution. Keeping in view the unquestionable importance of information in the modern world, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (M/o I&B) in Pakistan is fully committed to deliver its best at national and international front. With the emergence of mushroom growth of private TV and radio channels, newspapers and social media the responsibility of the Ministry has also increased manifolds. The ministry with its scanty resources has achieved much within last four years of this democratically elected government.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is the principal arm of the Federal Government, whose function is not only to project and promote strengths & positives of the government but also to build image of the country and highlight its policies and achievements through print and electronic media both within the country and abroad. Dissemination of information for the public awareness, provision of feedback to the government on daily basis and facilitation of the media representatives for good Government-Press relationship is the primary responsibility of the Ministry.
The biggest achievement of the Ministry is to introduce the policy of Self-regulation for the private media in Pakistan. It encourages vibrant, responsible and dynamic role of private media in Pakistan, which was discouraged in the last dictatorial regime.
Another achievement of the democratic government is that the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), established under a law in 2002, is now complete and has become a functional body. I hope that the Press Council will play a role of bridge between common masses and media institutions and it will be a non-partisan, independent and autonomous body which will be compatible with the regional and global institutions.
It is top priority of the present government to resolve the problems of the working journalists as if their problems are not resolved; they will not be able to able to properly highlight the problems of the masses. The government desires that journalists should express their thoughts and opinion with full independence and confidence. The government would continue to improve working conditions of media persons and hope that the journalist community would act in a responsible and careful manner in matters of national interest and security of the country.

The writer is the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting