The government is reluctant to implement its plan of establishing the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) following the protests by journalist bodies that have vehemently opposed the plan.
The government expressed its desire to establish the authority to counter the spread of fake news and protect the interests of media persons. The government believes that on the pretext of press freedom, several anchors and media persons resort to blame game without any concrete evidence. The government ministers, including Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, made it clear on multiple occasions that the country needs to have a strong regulatory framework to prevent baseless allegations. The recent verdict of a British local court against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s former wife Reham Khan prompted government ministers to demand similar laws in Pakistan.
On the other hand, the journalist fraternity thinks the plan suggests sweeping curbs on media. Speaking to Minute Mirror, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi said that the fate of the proposed law aimed at establishing the authority has been in limbo for some time. “This is a draconian law that would make it very hard to get the declaration of any newspaper, and it will also stifle dissenting voices who have been rendered jobless because of state institutions’ pressure on media houses.”
He revealed that the bill related to the authority also proposes heavy penalties on journalists. “Since the journalists all over the country vehemently opposed the bill by staging protests in front of all press clubs, the government has put it on hold,” he added.
Zaidi said that a national convention of journalists will be held in Islamabad next month. “The authority is one of the main topics to be discussed there. In addition to that, other problems of journalist fraternity would also come up for discussion,” he said.