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Tuesday, June 25, 2024  
18 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Govt withdraws PEMRA Amendment bill after journalists fraternity’s protest

Journalist fraternity had expressed concerns over the bill
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addresses a press conference in Islamabad on April 24, 2022. PID
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addresses a press conference in Islamabad on April 24, 2022. PID

The ruling alliance has announced its decision to withdraw the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Amendment Bill after serious concerns from the journalist fraternity.

“We wanted to abolish the old black law of PEMRA,” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said at the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday.

The committee presided over by convener Fawzia Arshad was under way.

Marriyum, who was in the opposition during the PTI tenure, told the committee that the bill was prepared after so much struggle. She acknowledged the opposition raised to some of the clauses of the bill.

“There has never been a compromise on the constitutional and democratic thinking,” Marriyum said and explained her position that she has always favoured the freedom of expression. “We cannot take any step which gives an impression that we don’t like freedom of media.”

In the last meeting of the committee, the information minister offered an open forum to journalists who wanted to bring changes to the PEMRA Amendment Bill.

Amid opposition from journalists, Marriyum withdrew the bill from the standing committee.

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The bill was formed after consultation with a joint action committee which included members from print and electronic media. But some private news channel anchors, including Hamid Mir, Amir Mateen, Muhammad Malik, and Kashif Abbasi raised the point that they were consulted before the bill in the last meeting of the committee.

They were of the view that the government has “divided” the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists into four to five sections and unilaterally summoned one of the sections to have their signatures on the bill.

They had objections to the clause which said that a complaint would be filed against the journalist where the incident took place as there were incidents where complaints were filed in different cities. They described it as “bounding” the journalists.

It was decided that the meeting would be postponed till Monday and amendments would be tabled. But some journalists kept tweeting against the bill and delay the meeting.

“It’s better late than never,” PFUJ leader Lala Asad Pathan told Aaj News and praised the decision of the political regime. He was of the view that the bill if passed would have resulted in the end of media in Pakistan.

He claimed that there was censorship in Pakistan, but the intended legislation would have converted into a law.

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Marriyum Aurangzeb