ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Wednesday that for the first time under the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021, working journalists in Pakistan had been given the rights being enjoyed by the journalists in advanced democracies.
Addressing the signing ceremony of “Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021”, here he said that credit for Media Professionals Act 2021 went to Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari who made tireless efforts for its finalization and enactment.
The minister said that in preparation of the act, consultations were held with all journalist groups including journalist organizations. Fawad said that the responsibility of the government and the Ministry of Information was to stand behind the working journalists.
A section in Pakistan had been trying to give the impression that the press was not free here, Fawad said, adding, “if there was no free press in Pakistan then there was no free press anywhere in the world”.
“When it comes to press freedom, we compare ourselves not with the Third World and the Muslim World but with the First World. We have no laws of defamation, so we have more freedom of the press than the first world”, said Chaudhry Fawad.
The minister said another aspect was that these freedoms were reserved for the media tycoons and working journalists were not getting the rights they should have been given.
He said the government through the new act had tried to give due rights to working journalists under Media Professionals Act. He said in the new act it was mandatory that if the owners send a cameramen to an event the responsibility lied on him to provide the cameramen protection.
The employment of working journalists has also been protected in the Media Professionals Act and for the first time an independent commission for journalists, which will decide complaints within 14 days.
The minister said that the act also provided protection to working journalists from employers and government officials. Many officials do not like reports of corruption in their departments in newspapers. Through this law, the government had tried to create an environment in which journalists could be protected, said Chaudhry Fawad.
He said that an attempt had been made to give a comprehensive definition of a journalist under this Act, which would be beneficial for the working journalists and fake media persons would not be able to exploit the profession.
He said on the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority,an Action Committee has been formed having representation and ” we are very close to reach a consensus.”
The minister said that wherever the Prime Minister assigned him any Responsibility, he tried to bring about a significant change.