Journalists from Abbottabad were stopped by the Motorway Police on Sunday as they tried to make their way to Islamabad in a bid to take part in a joint sit-in at the parliament against the possible setting up of media development authority. However, hundreds of journalists gathered at the Parliament House and chanted slogans against the government.
The call for sit-in was given by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to protest against the government’s plan to establish what they termed the new censorship headquarters. PFUJ urged all media workers, civil society, human rights groups, trade unions and digital rights advocates and the common man.
On Sunday, PFUJ leaders set up a sit-in camp at the Parliament House where they planned to remain overnight until the end of the joint sitting of the parliament when the journalists also planned to end the sit-in.
Journalists from different cities travelled to the federal capital. However, many were stopped.
When a group of Abbottabad journalists was stopped at the motorway, all of the journalists from the entire Hazara division mounted an effective protest by closing off the motorway altogether
A statement issued by the PFUJ stated that the sit-in was an effort aimed against the creation of the so-called media development authority and pre-empting the planned assault against the independence of media in Pakistan,
Meanwhile, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry told British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner that the PTI government firmly believed in freedom of expression and wanted to take all stakeholders on boards to create a consensus on the controversial draft of the Pakistan Media Development Authority.
According to the minister, the media authority was necessary for ensuring a coherent approach to media development and management.
The government, he said, wanted to streamline the process for issuing NOC for films to boost film industry.
Denying that the draft of the authority did not contain any criminal prosecution section, he said that protection, perseverance and promotion of the democratic values of freedom of expression and right to criticism were vital for the development of civilized society.
He also pointed out that there were seven different media regulatory bodies and the government just wanted to introduce a single forum for regulating all forms of media.
Saying that not only the media bodies scattered there was no regulatory framework for digital media