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Pakistan: New media authority bill is tool to gag press, says Fazlur Rehman

News Agencies | Updated on: 4 September 2021, 13:53 IST
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) head and chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said the Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government wants to stifle the voice of media through the media authority bill.

This comes amid the federal government's continuous push for Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill despite opposition from media groups in the country, which is being described as "draconian".

Rehman, who is the head of an alliance of some opposition parties, said he would support the journalist community in their struggle for press freedom, Dawn newspaper reported.

At a media briefing in Islamabad on Friday, Rehman said that journalism had always prospered and progressed in democracy but dictators and monarchs always wanted to read and watch what suited only them.

The opposition leader also said there was a state institution that considered itself superior, explaining that the dictatorial mindset had been flourishing in Pakistan while the decline in democracy had accelerated.

Last month, Rehman had said Pakistan has no constitutional governance and attacks on journalists and free speech are rampant in the country. "At this time, there is no constitutional governance in the country and attacks on freedom of expression are rampant, journalists are being ambushed," Fazlur had said during a press brief.

According to the Freedom Network's annual state of the Press Freedom 2021 report, Pakistan has emerged as the riskiest place to practice journalism with an escalation in attacks and harassment against media persons in the country.

At least 148 cases of attacks and violations against the media and its practitioners, including journalists, took place over the course of one year - between May 2020 and April 2021, The News International reported.

This is an increase by over 40 per cent from the 91 cases of violations documented in the preceding year (May 2019-April 2020), said the report which was launched on the eve of the World Press Freedom Day celebrated on May 3 every year.


First published: 4 September 2021, 13:54 IST