Government should do more for Press Freedom

LIKE other parts of the globe, in Pakistan too, World Press Freedom Day was observed on Tuesday but as compared to other countries rhetoric was quite visible here. There were customary statements from Government leaders, prominent figures from other walks of life and from the journalistic community itself but these were nothing but lip-service in view of state of affairs of press freedom in the country.
There has been mind-boggling proliferation of media in Pakistan during the last decade or so and with the passage of time it has become a major industry providing job opportunities to thousands of people. Media is also playing a crucial and pivotal role in shaping up opinion and promoting awareness on important issues. It is because of this vital role of media that in countries like those of Scandinavia, the governments extend financial support to even opposition newspapers. No doubt, the Government was not interfering with the freedom of media but the overall environment is not conducive for its growth on sound lines. According to a report issued by International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Pakistan has been ranked fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists with 115 killings since 1990. Pakistan is rated “Not Free” in the Freedom of the Press Index 2016, and is ranked 147th out of 195 countries and territories worldwide. Therefore, much needs to be done to ensure security for media-persons and media houses so as to create a secure environment for them to work in a truly independent manner. Instead of churning out statements, it would be in the fitness of things if the Government, on the occasion of Press Freedom Day, comes out with a concrete plan of action, in consultations with all stakeholders, for promotion of media industry. Steps should also be taken to ensure that people have access to information in an unhindered manner and for this purpose the Right to Information legislation should be strengthened at Federal and Provincial levels.

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