Search

Muzzled media

The government will find hardly a few people, even in the federal cabinet, who have the ‘guts’ to appreciate the cabinet’s decision to block media access to and interviews of politicians facing trial or have been convicted of a charge. It seems the government has lost political insight and is hell bent on losing its democratic credentials by imposing dictatorship on people’s right to free expression. The cabinet, which should have a heavy agenda to address public issues in the wake of a wave of inflation and ever-depleting means of income stemming from inept economic policies of its economic wizards, has instead decided to block media coverage and interviews of convicted or under-trail politicians. The cabinet, in fact, took up an already enforced measure and approved it as last week, in full public view, the interview of former president Asif Zardari, also PPP co-chairperson and MNA, was blocked minutes after it went on air on a private TV channel. If this episode was not enough to let the people know about the muzzling of the media, a few days later, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued notices to 21 channels for airing unedited news conference of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz wherein she screened a video footage involving a judge. Taking the mockery of affairs to the next level, on Monday night transmission of three channels went off air for allegedly airing the press talk of Asif Zardari. The cabinet has asked PEMRA to fulfill its ‘responsibility’ and stop airing of such programmes by the electronic media.
If one take a good look at the cabinet and see how many of its members are under-trial, it will emerge that several members, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, fall under the definition of under-trail people, and instantly lose their right to appear before TV cameras. Also, the country where the police and other law-enforcement agencies have the reputation of toeing government’s line, it is not difficult to get instituted a case against political opponents and stop them from speaking to the media. The government party’s desire to gag dissidents is a great disservice to the people and the state. Media regulatory body – PEMRA – needs to be strengthened and granted more autonomy so that it gets out of government’s control. The ruling party should ensure that laws pertaining to right to free speech are respected by everyone. Media houses also carry responsibility to keep the standards of ethical journalism high.



--!>

PTI, JUI-F stage protest against India, express solidarity with Kashmiris

--!>