September 8, 2021 – The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) are holding a joint press conference to address the issues faced by lawyers and journalist fraternity in the country.
While requesting media coverage, in a notice dated September 7, the joint coalition of associations announced that the press conference will be held in Islamabad Press Club on September 8 at 3 pm.
Issues facing journalists have been long standing. On Monday, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a warning on social media to journalists to not refer to the proscribed organisation as terrorists or extremists otherwise the media “would create enemies for itself”. PFUJ, in a statement, requested safety for the journalists against these threats, stating, “The new threat has again raised alarm bells among the journalists’ community. We are being targeted from both sides.”
The journalists union asked that the government must include recommendations suggested by PFUJ in the proposed Journalists Safety and Protection Bill. It added, “We have suggested that media owners should be bound to provide life insurance to all employees, particularly those working in the conflict areas.”
Amidst increased tension among the journalists’ community after TTP’s threat, journalists across the country are demanding protection from the government and media owners in order to do their work safely.
This year, the government has proposed another legal framework in the form of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA) Ordinance that dissolves six media regulatory laws and bodies to formulate one Authority, PMDA, that will regulate all forms of media, including electronic, print and online media. This proposal from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has met with criticism and rejection from journalists bodies and civil society, calling it a threat to freedom of the press in the country. The process of the drafting of the law has followed an undemocratic process, previously seen when the Social Media Rules were being drafted, where the Ministry has not made the consultation draft public for meaningful stakeholder consultation.