ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has rejected the Media Development Authority Bill, 2021 calling it a bid to curb freedom of speech in Pakistan.
Condemning “the motives” behind the bill, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman said the government wanted to pressurize media through the ordinance, which her party would fully oppose.
“It is a double standard of the government to prepare the said ordinance after passing of the Journalist Protection Bill,” she said adding that the international organisations had also expressed their concern over the censorship in Pakistan.
According to a report, Pakistan was the fifth most dangerous country for journalists, while as per the Freedom Network of Pakistan, 148 journalists were attacked in one year, she said. She also said that Pakistan had been demoted to 145 ranking from 139 in Press Freedom Index.
“Most of the attacks are taking place in Islamabad,” she said.
Senator Sherry Rehman said the bill has been termed by which media rights groups a ‘media martial law’, which plans to centralise media oversight under one draconian authority, while annual NOCs will remain operational.
“There will be no onus on the government to provide warning or rationales for clampdowns. The law may even extend control to digital platforms. This is a plan for institutionalising the censorship. Media outlets will either become state mouthpieces or go under,” she tweeted.
On the other hand, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has said new media law would be beneficial for the media workers.
He said under the new law, media workers would be able to approach courts of law against media houses in case of non-payment of salaries.
He said the PPP and PML-N opposed the amendment earlier and will do the same now as well because their interests were attached with the owners, not workers.