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‘Journalists Ask If Questioning Government Is Anti-Pakistan’

Fawad-Chaudhry
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    ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Monday said that he will soon expose journalists involved in ‘anti-Pakistan campaigns’.

    Talking to Samaa TV, the minister said Pakistan was a victim of Afghanistan’s ‘double game’ when Baloch separatists Hyrbyair Marri and Brahumdagh Bugti were provided sanctuary in Afghanistan. He added that a campaign was being run against Pakistan and some Pakistani journalists, ‘whom I call intellect-chawals’, also join the chorus. “I’ll do a press conference soon and name the journalists involved in anti-Pakistan activities”, he said.

    Fawad Chaudhry complained that a campaign against it was launched against the proposed Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA) bill before it was even tabled. “German ambassador came to me, expressing concern over this document. I asked him how many attacks on journalists had been reported in Pakistan. He said, eight to nine. I told him hundreds of cases of Islamophobia have emerged from Germany but Pakistani ambassador has never raised this issue with the German government”, Chaudhry said.

    Reacting to the statement while talking to Naya Daur TV, senior journalist Adnan Rehmat said it was extremely unfortunate that the minister of information was demonising media instead of strengthening it. “He didn’t name anyone. Nor did he cite some particular incident. And the statement was completely off topic. He targeted media unnecessarily. This attitude is consistent with the ruling party’s past practices though. Instead of countering criticism with facts, they start demonising their critics”, he said.

    Talking about Fawad Chaudhry’s criticism of the media for protesting against PMDA, digital rights activist Farieha Aziz said that media protestations were not unwarranted. “Look at the kind of restrictions media is facing Pakistan today. When such documents emerge, journalists have got to be concerned. And then there’s no transparency either. The government did not release any draft. It should have done the consultations with all the stakeholders on time and made the entire process transparent”, she said.

    On Chaudhry’s comparison between attacks on journalists in Pakistan and Islamophobia in the West, Farieha said two wrongs didn’t make a right.

    Founder of IBC website, and the president of Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), Sabokh Syed said that ‘eight to nine’ attacks on journalists was not something that should be mentioned in such a casual manner. “Journalists are pressurised through other means as well. Many have lost their jobs during the last few years. Pakistan now ranks 145th on the RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. We are genuinely concerned about it”, he said.

    Discussing the federal minister’s warning that he will soon hold a press conference to expose such journalists, Sabokh Syed said this was a very serious charge and if Fawad Chaudhry had the evidence to prove his case, he must bring it forward. “If he has the evidence, the government must take action against journalists working on Indian agenda”, he said.

    “DigiMAP condemns every action aimed at curbing media freedoms in the country. PECA, passed by the previous government, has been repeatedly used to target journalists. Instead of taking action against the real cyber criminals, the government has used this law to harass media practitioners. We do not want confrontation with the government. We’re only asking for our rights guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan”, Sabokh added.

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