ISLAMABAD: A spokesperson of the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) on Sunday termed news items which appeared in a section of print media regarding promulgation of press laws as incorrect.
“It is clarified that the contents of the news story are incorrect and have created an impression that a democratic order in the country is going to be impacted as the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP), a print media regulator is framing a set of laws not consistent with the spirit of Article-19 of the 1973 Constitution that guarantees right to speech,” he said in a press release.
The reports had claimed that the council and the government were going to introduce repressive press laws in the country.
The spokesperson said that the contents of the news story along with the points of reference raised therein were factually incorrect and misleading.
It is reiterated that the Constitution unequivocally guarantees that every citizen would have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there would 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 the country or any part thereof, which includes friendly relations with states, he added.
It is against this constitutional provision that no law inconsistent with the Article 19 of the Constitution could be framed.
Even after the introduction of 18th Amendment in the Constitution, the subject of newspapers has been devolved to the provinces, leaving no empowerment for the federal government to legislate without supportive resolution from the provinces in line with relevant articles of the Constitution, the press release maintained.
It was further clarified that the existing Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance – 2002 is in place, which has in its schedule, laid down a detailed Ethical Code of Practice for Print Media to follow that provides adequate framework of print media freedom and responsibilities alike.
“The government fully believes in the freedom of press and is doing its best to ensure that every citizen and media person legitimately exercises one’s Right to Information. Going by this principle as enshrined in the Article 19 A of the Constitution, Senate has passed on August 22, 2017, Right of Access to Information Bill 2017 which shortly is to be laid before National Assembly in order to make it a permanent part of freedom related laws in Pakistan.”
It is reemphasised that no law over the subject mentioned in print media reports has ever been framed.
It may relevantly be added that the legislation process whenever undertaken by the federal government is initiated in consultation with the stakeholders.
“The question of curbing media freedom therefore does not arise,” the spokesman emphasised.