Newly elected Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Tuesday announced disbanding the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) set up during the PTI government’s tenure.
“An attempt was being made to gag an already muzzled media. But now, whatever shape and form PMDA is working in, we have decided to disband it,” the minister, who took oath hours earlier, told journalists.
Marriyum said that the coalition government would not allow the imposition of curbs on freedom of expression in the country as she termed the PMDA a “black law”.
She said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Amendment Ordinance “unconstitutional” due to the efforts of journalists and the PML-N as well.
“So now, we will review this PECA law and take all stakeholders on board in this regard. We will also identify the gaps which are there and were used to muzzle the media,” she added.
The information minister said for the last four years, the Pakistani society experienced suffocation, may it be in the form of abusive language, targeting of politicians, black laws, or ordinances.
“I think we should now move towards a new beginning as a coalition government has been formed that represents entire Pakistan,” the information minister said.
Replying to a question, she said the government has gathered data on the bot Twitter accounts that were being operated to malign the institutions and run trends against them.
“This does not come under freedom of expression as these campaigns are being run through software. There is zero tolerance on such trends and campaigns,” the information minister said.
Marriyum warned the PTI that it could not protest outside journalists’ homes just because their government failed to deliver. “There will be zero tolerance regarding this and we have instructed the inspector general of Islamabad to make sure that culprits are published.”
The information minister noted that the government would not take revenge on its political opponents, but whosoever has done something illegal while in office, action will be taken against them.
With regards to President Arif Alvi’s refusal to administer oath to the cabinet and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, she said the president should be aware of the fact that he is not a member of the PTI, but has a constitutional role.
“…if he cannot fulfil the oath he took while becoming president, then the best option for him is to resign,” the information minister advised the president.
BILAWAL’S OATH: She said confidently that PPP Chairman Bilawal would take oath as federal minister on return from London.
PM’S ADDRESS: The information minister said that the prime minister would also address the nation in a day or two and would announce the government’s long- and short-term goals.
At the outset of her first press briefing after becoming the minister, she said during the previous government’s tenure, Pakistan’s media industry went through a dark phase, facing a financial crisis, the firing of journalists, curbs on freedom of expression, censorship, and other problems that the journalists faced.
She noted that accountability by the media was crucial for the government as it helps the rulers rectify themselves and serve the people better.