People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari denounced the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA) as an “attack on the freedom of media and judiciary.”
Bilawal on Monday joined media workers and civil society members who are protesting outside the Parliament House in Islamabad against the PTI government’s proposed PMDA.
Journalists and media bodies have rejected the PMDA and termed it “unconstitutional” and a move to “muzzle the press and curb freedom of expression by imposing state control” to regulate all media platforms under one central body.
The PPP chairman said his party will attend the joint sitting of the parliament with a two-point agenda; to advocate for the rights of 20,000 government employees who were sacked and to campaign for the freedom of speech.
“These employees were not the PPP’s workers,” he said. “This is the second time that government employees have been fired. What will they do now?” he asked.
The PPP chairman vowed his party will not let the government get away with snatching livelihoods from the masses. He showed solidarity with journalists who have been attacked, saying that the PPP “will not be satisfied till they are not satisfied.”
“Even if they manage to have this black law passed, journalists will [struggle to] have it abolished,” he added.
Hitting out at the prime minister, Bilawal said the opposition was united against the PTI government. “They do not let the opposition speak,” he said. “The government tries to have laws passed secretly.”
The PPP chairman warned the government that if it tried to have the PMDA law passed by force, the PPP will challenge it in the courts.
He expressed the fear that the government will try to pass the bill during a joint sitting of the parliament.
About other opposition leaders, Bilawal said he enjoyed cordial relations with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and others. “I have no personal grudge against Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” he stressed.