Former President of Pakistan and co-Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari, on Friday said Press Freedom Day today, May 3, is an appropriate occasion to initiate a healthy public discourse on media freedoms and making those freedoms rest on the solid and surer foundations of a code that is respected and adhered to by all.
“However, while it is important to have a code of conduct, it will be wrong to clamp down on media or a section of it in the name of real or imagined excesses and deviations and also all other considerations howsoever tempting or genuine must be carefully weighed and balanced against the constitutional right to information guaranteed in Article 19-A of the Constitution,” he said in a message on the Press Freedom Day falling today (Saturday).
Zardari said the PPP condemns in the strongest possible terms crimes against media persons and is deeply concerned over the impunity with which these crimes are perpetrated.
“On the occasion of Press Freedom Day, while we compliment the journalist community for their struggle in freeing the media from different forms of shackles, we are also deeply concerned that threats to the safety and security of media persons have increased over the years,” the PPP co-chairman said. The former president said it is time to establish a credible and effective institutional mechanism for protection of journalists in the Consultation with all stakeholders, including federal and provincial governments, representative bodies of working media persons, media houses and professional media bodies.
Zardari said the Pakistan People’s Party believes that freedom of the media is a foundational pillar of democracy, transparency and accountability that must not be allowed to be pulled down on any pretext.
In his message on World Press Freedom Day, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP Patron-in-Chief, said his party will not compromise on freedoms of speech and will stand shoulder to shoulder with media community whenever it is attacked.
“Pakistan People’s Party and the journalist community have always fought together against martial laws and gagging of press since last four decades. Freedom of press is one of the key part of our struggle to strengthen democracy and supremacy of the Constitution,” Bilawal said.
He said that his party is proud that Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed threw away the black laws in 1988 opening new opportunities for media expansion to ensure freedom of expression.
The PPP patron-in-chief said scores of journalists have been killed since last two decades while performing their duties making Pakistan one of the most dangerous country for them. “It is unfortunate that Kalashnikov culture introduced by Zia’s dictatorial regime is taking its toll and almost every peaceful segment of our society is being targeted by same culture,” he added.
He said PPP has always vehemently condemned use of violence in the society and has a record to launch massive masses movements for restoration of democracy without throwing a single stone since last four decades.