Govt believes in freedom of expression: Firdous

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PTI completes one year in power
Highlights Ehsaas welfare programme, Foreign Ministry role in raising Kashmir dispute at UNSC
Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) “believes in the right to freedom of expression and speech”, chief government spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Sunday, while addressing a ceremony held to mark the completion of the party’s first year in government.
A special ceremony was held at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad and was attended by various ministers and party leaders, including Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting (SAPM) Awan and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque.
At the start of her address, Awan said that the day would be dedicated to the people of occupied Kashmir.
She said the premier’s address to the nation that was scheduled for today had been postponed as the government’s “full-time focus” was on Kashmir.
“In the interest of the greater cause of Kashmir, we have put aside our political engagements and decided to take the national narrative forward.” “The greatest achievement of the government in the past year is that we believe in the right of freedom of expression and speech.”
She insisted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not tried to curb the media at any level or at any forum, whether at the party level or government level. “He did not communicate that the media be maligned […] or that the media’s fundamental rights be taken, at any forum or through any personal action.”
According to the PTI manifesto, press freedom is one of the commitments of the government. “We are committed to maintaining a vigorous free media, which will evolve its own rules to ensure responsible journalism both in the electronic and print media,” reads the manifesto.
The special assistant said that the attendees of the event had been given a folder regarding the reform agenda for various ministries in the government. She said that in the coming week, one ministry will be answerable before the media daily.
Awan lauded the foreign ministry for raising the Kashmir issue at international forums, including the United Nations. “It was a big success of the foreign ministry that for the first time [in 50 years] a UN session took place [regarding Kashmir] despite India repeatedly calling for a veto of this in the past.
“The government, through the platform of the foreign ministry and under the leadership of the prime minister, will present the Kashmir issue — which is our top priority — before the world.”
Awan highlighted the Ehsas welfare programme as one of the achievements of the PTI government: “Ehsas programme is close to the premier’s heart. He believes that a society cannot change until people understand each other’s situations.”
Ehsas is an ambitious social safety and poverty alleviation programme for the welfare of the public that was launched by Prime Minister Imran in March this year.
The SAPM said that when she took over the information ministry, she had initiated the process of enabling the Associated Press of Pakistan to “stand on its own two feet”. She added that the ministry had introduced new policies to empower Radio Pakistan.
Awan said that this year, space would be created for foreign journalists so that not only “negative news” of Pakistan is promoted but positive as well.