Shahbaz Sharif claims that PMLN would resist the current governement’s efforst to pass legislation on the Pakistan Development Authority (PMDA).

While talking to the media he informed the journalists taht PMLN and PDM had rejected the PMDA. He claimed that the opposition would join forces against this black law, as it was the death of journalism, democracy and constitutional freedom.

The Opposition leader said he would also take up the matter of PMDA within his party, as he announced to also hold a consultative meeting with representatives of Opposition and media organisations.

“We will keep highlighting the issue, and maybe the conscience of someone from the government’s bench will awaken,” Shahbaz said. He added that PTI was the only government to cripple the media to this extent.

“If any other government had imposed such restrictions, it would have been overthrown.”

Unprecedented restrictions had been implemented on the media in the last three years. The journalists were well aware of the lies spread by the government. The curbs on media had left dozens of journalists unemployed.

Shahbaz Sahrif ressured the journalists that the opposition would do everything to get the bill rejected and support their right of freedom of speech.

“Freedom that media has gained is not a gift from anyone […] media has made great sacrifices for the freedom of expression,” the Opposition leader said.

“Unfortunately, when Imran Niazi was part of the Opposition [before his party came to power] he was media’s blue-eyed boy.”

The Pakistan’s embassy in Washington on the other hand rejected a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW). The embassy claimed that the government was only trying to help PDMA keep up with the challenges. The bill was no secret and was made after consultations with all the compromised agencies.

Proposed PMDA to increase government control over media

HRW, in its report, said that “as part of its crackdown on freedom of expression”, the government is seeking broad new powers in the garb of the proposed PMDA.

The proposed law would grant new unchecked powers to the government-controlled PMDA by setting up special “media tribunals” that will have the power to impose steep fines for media organisations and journalists who violate its code of conduct or publish content it deems to be “fake news”, the report added, citing journalists, human rights activists, and lawyers.

The HRW report stated that the proposed law would also increase government control by allowing government officials to be appointed to key positions.

“The government has kept the final draft of the PMDA law and the entire drafting process secret, raising further apprehensions among the media and civil society groups. The government has undertaken no meaningful consultative process on the law,” it further said.


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