Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan

By Bartholomew Madukwe with Agency report

As a media rights watchdog, Freedom Network (FN) records that more than 157 attacks have occurred to journalists and 55 of them took place in Islamabad, capital city of Pakistan, between May 2017 and April 2018, the Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on Wednesday said that his government did not believe in resorting to media censorship.

He urged the media to adopt a mechanism for self-regulation, noting that even in the past all efforts to censor the media did not prove to be fruitful.

Speaking at the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) Awards ceremony in Islamabad, the prime minister said media censorship was not possible in today’s age of social media and the internet, reports Dawn.

“You may achieve short-term gains by imposing censorship on media, but it never goes in the country’s interests,” he stressed.

Prime Minister Abbasi claimed that his government had discontinued the practice of using secret funds by the Intelligence Bureau for media.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi with awardees of 28th All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) Awards at PM Office Islamabad on 30th May, 2018.

He said governments of bygone days used to spend billions through IB’s secret funds, but the PML-N government did not spend a single penny in this regard.

The prime minister said every government had complaints with the media, and he too had some grievances, but that the PML-N government always tried to ensure press freedom and right of expression in the country.

“We always tried not to put any pressure on journalists and not to lure them with offers. Our government made every effort to ensure freedom of expression,” he claimed.

Abbasi urged media outlets to objectively highlight the government’s achievements and refrain from highlighting negative news.

“Positives are always important for the country. Negative news causes concern among the masses,” he said.

The prime minister said he did not want the media to always praise the government, but it should “at least apprise public about the good things the government has done for the people and the country”.

He regretted that Pakistan was the only country where the government worked during the daytime and then defended itself in talk shows in the evening.

Anyone wanting to become a minister today must be a media personality and should be capable of defending his actions and performance before the media, he said.

He said in this day and age the government not only had to defend its performance, but also had to respond to all types of allegations. “If a person cannot handle media in Pakistan, no one will talk about their performance,” he added.

Prime Minister Abbasi agreed that the newspaper industry was currently facing challenges and it had become difficult for print media to sustain.

He said the government wanted to support print media but cautioned that media representatives would have to be watchful to ensure that the government support does not influence press freedom and the right of expression.

To prevent this, he said, there must be a self-regulatory mechanism in media where a rebuttal or condemnation could also be accommodated in newspapers.

Like free and fair elections, the country also needed a free and fair press, the prime minister concluded.





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