PM Shehbaz stresses need to enhance protection of journalists

Vows robust enforcement of Journalist Safety Law to ensure media freedom

By: News Desk
Published: 11:14 AM, 6 Dec, 2022
PM Shehbaz stresses need to enhance protection of journalists
Caption: TV grab.
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has highlighted the importance of free media and lauded the contributions of journalists in the promotion of democracy while stressing the need to enhance the protection of journalists, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

He expressed these views while addressing the United Nations’ 10-year plan of action organized by the Journalist Safety Forum in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He said that the recent murder of journalist Arshad Sharif is a sad happening. He said he spoke to the president of Kenya and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto - who is in coordination with Kenyan authorities - and wrote a letter to the chief justice of Pakistan to form a commission to ensure swift justice. 

The prime minister said that democracy and media freedom reinforce each other and both go hand in hand.  “We had dictatorship for 33 years but we returned to democracy with collective efforts,” he added.

Shehbaz said media freedom and democracy reinforced each other and expressed his government’s resolve to support an environment for journalists free of intimidation and harassment. “My government believes that no journalist or human rights activist should be called out in the line of duty,” he said, expressing his firm resolve to proactively facilitate the implementation of the Journalists Safety Law.

Shehbaz termed a free media and freedom of expression the important pillars of a State and press freedom in Pakistan had been close to the hearts of journalists and civil society.

He said journalists of the country over the years greatly contributed to press freedom and mentioned that Hamid Mir, as the chairperson of Journalist Safety Forum, faced difficult challenges including an attempt on his life.

He termed the killing of prominent journalist Arshad Sharif an “extremely sad incident” and said that he soon after spoke to the government of Kenya and later wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to form a judicial commission.

Shehbaz Sharif said despite the chequered history with 33 years of military rule, the collective political efforts lead to resumption of democracy to put the country on right track.

He termed the 1973 constitution ‘a very sacred document’ which acted as a binding force among the units of the federation and ensured democratic values besides ensuring basic rights of citizens.

In 2013, he said, Pakistan became the first country in Asia to pass legislation on the safety of journalists and last year, the parliament passed the landmark ‘Protection of Journalists and Media Protection Act’.

Shehbaz Sharif, on requests of the media community, assured to look into the Section 6 of the Act to prevent harassment and intimidation of journalists.

He mentioned that there were still challenges facing the journalists in their line of duty and required sustained efforts by media, civil society, UN and international bodies.

He appreciated the contribution of international community in supporting economic and social development of Pakistan, particularly UNESCO and countries including Norway, Denmark and France.

He expressed confidence that the outcomes and recommendations of the Forum would help leading towards a free media in Pakistan.