Pak­istan wit­ness­ing new me­dia poli­cies and prac­tices: PPF

Pakistan Observer - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL - STAFF RE­PORTER

KARACHI— Pak­istan is wit­ness­ing new poli­cies and prac­tices that can have se­ri­ous con­se­quences on free­dom of ex­pres­sion and safety of me­dia in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Pak­istan Press Free­dom Re­port is­sued by Pak­istan Press Foun­da­tion ( PPF) on World Press Free­dom Day com­mem­o­rated glob­ally on May 3( to­day).

The re­port cites ag­gres­sive sys­tem of edi­to­rial ad­vice to tele­vi­sion chan­nels by Pak­istan Elec­tronic Me­dia Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity ( PEMRA); le­gal ac­tion pro­hibit­ing speeches and in­ter­views of Altaf Hus­sain, head of Mut­tahida Qaumi Move­ment, and the fail­ure of the ju­di­cial com­mis­sion ful­fil its man­dated re­spon­si­bil­ity to iden­tify cul­prits and fix re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mur­der­ous at­tack on Geo Tv’s pop­u­lar talk show host Hamid Mir as wor­ry­ing re­cent de­vel­op­ments re­lated to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and im­punity for crimes against me­dia.

The re­port also ex­presses con­cern over the pas­sage of the cy­ber crimes bill by the Na­tional Assem­bly that could be used to cur­tail free ex­pres­sion; and the ban­ning of fea­ture film “Maa­lik” and two doc­u­men­taries ´ Among the Be­liev­ers ´ and ´ Be­sieged in Quetta ´ .

The re­port notes that the process of tam­ing tele­vi­sion chan­nels that started in 2014 af­ter the mur­der­ous at­tack on Geo Tele­vi­sion talk show host Hamid Mir con­tin­ues un­abated, with PEMRA is­su­ing di­rec­tives that im­pinge on edi­to­rial in­de­pen­dence of Pak­istan ´ s tele­vi­sion news chan­nels.

PEMRA has been is­su­ing di­rec­tives and press ad­vise to tele­vi­sion chan­nels on a range of is­sues cov­er­age of Pak­istan ´ s de­ci­sion not to send ground forces to Ye­man; the tragedy in Mina in which many Pak­istani cit­i­zens died; the cov­er­age of the funeral of Mum­taz Qadri, the con­victed killer of Pun­jab Gover­nor Sal­man Taseer, and the ban the broad­cast of im­ages and speeches of Mut­tahida Qaumi Move­ment ( MQM) chief Altaf Hus­sain.

The Pak­istan Press Free­dom Re­port also ex­pressed con­cern that the Pre­ven­tion of Elec­tronic Crimes Bill passed in the Na­tional Assem­bly could be used to limit free ex­pres­sion in Pak­istan ´ s cy­ber space.

The re­port also doc­u­ments that twelve me­dia per­son­nel were in­jured in three dif­fer­ent in­ci­dents in the first four months of 2016.

The re­port also notes a num­ber of pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments re­lated to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and safety of me­dia in Pak­istan. These in­cluded, lift­ing of the ban on YouTube af­ter three years, cre­ation of “Edi­tors for Safety ( EfS)”, the de­ci­sion of the Sindh Po­lice to rein­ves­ti­gate the killing of jour­nal­ist Shan Da­har in Larkana Dis­trict of Sindh and the con­vic­tion of the killer of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa jour­nal­ist Ayub Khat­tak.

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