KARACHI: All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors Council (CPNE) Saturday expressed deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating environment of freedom of expression and freedom of media in Pakistan.
APNS President Hameed Haroon and CPNE President Syed Faseih Iqbal in a joint statement here said that the single most important step that needs to be taken today by the government is an urgent restoration of all television news channels in Pakistan. This alone will allow an immediate return to the process of constructive dialogue between government and civil society for which, a free press and a free electronic media are arbitrators or referees, they stated.
The statement further said that the recent taking off the air of news channels by the Dubai Government is viewed by all parts of the press, whether print or electronic, whether journalists or editors, as a serious blow to any hopes for improvement in the situation.
The APNS and CPNE are firmly of the view that freedom of the print media cannot be separated from the freedom of expression within the electronic media. Since the same groups of editors and journalists comprise the work force of the entire press any blow sustained by apart of the press will cause irreparable damage to the rest of the media, they said.
“We believe, it is essential to chalk an immediate way out of this major national crisis. If the major electronic news channels are restored without any delay, the components of the press u the APNS, the CPNE and the PFUJ (supported by the PBA) are prepared to convene joint assembly of the press in which, the agenda of the government grievances against the media and vice versa can be dealt with speedily,” the statement maintained.
They said in any democracy leading towards elections, a constructive dialogue between the government and the arbitrators for freedom of expression is vital. Such a dialogue cannot be meaningfully considered when electronic channels are gagged and friendly neighborly countries are prevailed upon to withdraw satellite transmission facilities in a way that it gravitates towards creating regional misunderstanding in place of regional interchange, they added.
The APNS and CPNE urged President Musharraf to review his current broadcasting and print media policies occasioned by the Emergency before it is too late, otherwise, a deteriorating climate for freedom of expression and freedom of association within Pakistan would immediately drift towards the destruction of the principle of freedom.-SANA