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Syed Sumsam Bukhari speaks on Freedom of Media in Pakistan

Islamabad, January 29, 2013 (PPI-OT): Syed Sumsam Ali Shah Bukhari Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting has said that Pakistan is confronted with the challenge of perception despite its contribution to eradicate extremism and militancy. Our people he added are fighting the war against terrorism as well as the image of our society as being portrayed by a section of international media.

Simultaneously, he stated, Pakistan is facing challenges of power shortage, economic opportunities and illiteracy. Pakistan he mentioned needs support and acknowledgment for its sacrifices and resilience, says a press release received from London here today.

The Minister was addressing a gathering of prominent lawyers and intellectuals at the Rochester Chambers in Birmingham. The subject of Minister’s talk was “Freedom of Press and Media in Pakistan”.

Deliberating upon the subject, the Minister said that freedom of speech and expression is essentially a constitutional right which should be responsibly utilized to the maximum extent possible.

The Minister said that he was proud to share with the audience that like any free and developed country in the world, people of a democratic Pakistan enjoy complete freedom of expression that is respectful to the diverse cultures and communities that make up the social fabric of Pakistan.

The Democratic Government of Pakistan firmly believed that freedom of expression, freedom of information and access to information were necessary and inevitable for the promotion of democratic culture in the country, he added. However, the Minister said that while the law should allow genuine freedom of expression for the collective social good, it should not be made absolute so as to enable anarchists and hate groups to attack others’ personal beliefs and identities, and it was also important to respect the ethics and principles of objectivity and accuracy for which journalism is respected worldwide.

Mr. Bukhari said that Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a staunch believer in the freedom of the press ensured its freedom by enshrining the same in Article 19 of the unanimously accepted in the 1973, Constitution of Pakistan.

The Minister said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto once proclaimed: “It is when the people are kept in the dark that the greatest travesties in our world have occurred. It is when journalists are whipped for telling the truth that we are in the greatest danger.”

The Minister urged that in the current regional situation as well as socio-economic and political environment of Pakistan, the national media must play its role to dispel social panic and despair; to create a national resolve against militancy and to create a spirit of tolerance, pluralism, mutual respect and unity of purpose in society. Mr. Bukhari underlined that it was unfortunate that Pakistan had a negative image abroad, because international media only seems to be interested in violence while according minimal coverage to the positive aspects of Pakistani society.

Highlighting the steps taken for the welfare of the journalist community, Mr Bukhari said that the present Government was committed to providing security, insurance and risk coverage for media houses.

The Government he added had done a lot to ensure better healthcare facilities to working journalists and their families. Similarly, media colonies had been approved in all the districts of Pakistan, he informed. He further said that the government was fully aware of the problems of media workers and wanted to help resolve their problems with the cooperation of media houses.

The Minister also answered the questions relating to the freedom of press and the prevailing situation in Pakistan asked by the audience. While replying to a question he said the Malala became victim of freedom of expression because she expressed herself for a better life for girls.

In response to another question he mentioned that on two occasions the Nation got united; once during Swat operation and second when militants attacked Malala. It reflects that a very large majority of our population in all provinces are moderate and progressive, he added. The remedy for the problems in Pakistan he said answering a question, was to change the thought process through education.

The Minister commended the organizers for providing the platform to share thoughts and opinions on such an important and sensitive subject, and thanked them for the opportunity to share the Democratic Government of Pakistan’s perspective and vision.

The event was attended by a large number of the members of legal community of the UK, scholars, intellectuals and media representatives.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
Email: piopid@gmail.com

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