A thunderous speech. Recently elected All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) President Hameed Haroon made an impassioned plea for press freedom at the annual APNS awards function, attended by both former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former minister for information Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Earlier, APNS president Hameed Haroon said he believed that they were in “the process of orchestrating a state of intolerance in Pakistan today, a condition which is inimical to the very survival of a free press and to freedom of expression”.
“Over the past few years, we are encountering the most dangerous attacks on Article 19 of the Constitution,” he said.
“Article 19 says that there shall be freedom of press subject to reasonable restrictions,” Mr Haroon said, adding: “And we know what those reasonable restrictions are.”
“Unfortunately, the modern state is a complex of many institutions. We find these attacks on press freedom neither silent nor modest, but blatant attacks on freedom of expression. We find that the state institutions are not showing restraint and respect for the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Haroon said once he had told Gen Musharraf that if “in the war on terror, you destroy the institutions of democracy”, there would be no future of democracy after the war.
It was disturbing to see rules being broken with impunity and distributors, hawkers and agents and cable operators being “harassed and coerced across the country by the state institutions”, he said.
“If we destroy this spirit of pluralism and do not permit freedom of expression, we not only violate our Constitution, but also face a bleak future ahead of us,” he added.
Hear, hear. We hope the media sticks together in such trying times and that all news organisations come to each others’ defence when their freedoms are challenged. We’re all in this together.