Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said media freedom and democracy reinforced each other and expressed his government’s resolve to support an environment free of intimidation and harassment for journalists.
“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.
Addressing at an event here to mark 10 years of the United Nations’ Plan of Action organized by Journalist Safety Forum, the prime minister termed a free media and freedom of expression the important pillars of a State.
Shehbaz Sharif said, “The press freedom in Pakistan had been close to the hearts of journalists and civil society”.
He said the 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.
Prime Minister stated, “In 2013, 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.
Chairperson Journalist Safety Forum Hamid Mir proposed that federal and Sindh governments must notify the safety commissions under the laws passed by the National Assembly and stressed passage of similar laws for the journalists of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab.
The event was attended by journalists, human rights experts and representatives of national and international organizations.
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