Code of conduct for Pakistani media: Don’t glorify terrorism

By: Abdul Nishapuri

The following code of conduct is proposed in view of irresponsible behavior and projection of terrorists as heroes and propagation of hate speech and incitement to violence in certain segments of Pakistani media. 

Many of us are aware of how several reporters and anchors are rating oriented, over-ambitious, want to cause sensation and are looking for a short cut to fame and sensation; some of them are suspected to have pro-establishment or pro-jihadi inclinations.

This code of conduct is applicable to all forms of media, including but not limited to newspapers, television channels, websites and radio.

Pakistan is currently undergoing the most difficult phase of its history. We, the Pakistani nation, the democratic government and the Pakistan Army, are fighting a war with an enemy who is hiding within our own people, and who does not hesitate from killing our fellow Pakistanis, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, Pashtun or Punjabi, Sindhi or Baloch, Sunni or Shia etc.

Our enemy uses a false interpretation of Islam to promote its international jihadi and sectarian agenda. Our enemy kills our foreign guests, investors, aid-workers, and diplomats in Pakistan, be they from China or USA, Iran or Egypt.

It has been noticed that some media outlets including but not limited to TV news and talk-shows, newspaper columns and websites are involved in speech or activities which are either implicitly or explicitly against the security of our fellow Pakistanis of diverse communities.

It has been noticed that some writers, speakers or anchorpersons tend to glorify or justify terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Sipah-e-Sahaba (LeJ/ASWJ) or their associate jihadi and sectarian groups in Pakistan.

Often terrorism against the people of Pakistan and various leaders and institutions is justified in the guise of what terrorism apoloigsts term as a legitimate reaction to US war with the Taliban, injustices in Kashmir, Afghanistan or Palestine. Pakistan is not responsible for any injustices in any form in any part of the world, nor would it allow terrorists and their mentors to brainwash and use innocent Pakistanis against their own country and its esteemed institutions.

We understand that a typical 13 to 17 year old suicide bomber who explodes himself in a mosque, imambargah, market or police station is only a foot-soldier, who has been brainwashed by such pro-jihadi anchorpersons and columnists, opportunist political leaders or narrow-minded mullahs, who have convinced the suicide bomber to direct his anger against Pakistan, its armed forces and democratic institutions.

Therefore, any anchorperson, speaker or writer, who is found guilty of either justifying or glorifying acts of terrorism, ought to be arrested on the charges of treason against Pakistan. Such person must be tried in anti-terrorism courts and given exemplary punishment.

As a matter of rule:

  1. All innocent citizens and members of security forces who sacrifice their lives in Pakistan’s war on terror with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ, ASWJ) will be described as ‘shaheed’ or martyr.
  2. All terrorists of Taliban, Al Qaeda, LeJ/ASWJ killed in the war on terror will be described as ‘jahannum wasil’ or ‘killed’.
  3. No interviews with Taliban leaders, LeJ/ASWJ leaders or their supporters will be conducted or broadcast through the media.
  4. Media will refrain from inviting those black-sheep who openly speak against Pakistan’s war on terror, and try to justify terrorist activities as a legitimate reaction or jihad. Such fifth columnists will not be invited in talk shows.
  5. Those anchor persons or columnists who are known for their sympathies towards Taliban, Al Qaeda or LeJ/ASWJ will be banned from conducting any TV shows or writing columns for newspapers.
  6. No comments from terrorists posing to be ordinary public will be allowed on media, which tend to glorify or justify acts of terror.
  7. Channels will not go overboard in the urge to increase viewers rating. They will refrain from creating sensationalism. They will refrain from giving extensive live coverage to terrorist activities.
  8. Media will not force unwanted stories and television news which glorify anti-national elements, terrorists and traitors.
  9. Media outlets will not race after breaking news. The concept of confirmation and accuracy of news or an event from independent sources will not be ignored.
  10. Media organizations shall provide risk-awareness training for those journalists and media workers, who are likely to be involved in assignments where dangerous conditions prevail. They will also be trained on how to keep national interests in mind when reporting or interpreting news items.
  11. In order to curb sensationalism and also to reward hard working and responsible journalists, media owners will distribute at least 25% of their profits to their employees including full time media workers and freelance journalists, who comply with this code of conduct.
  12. Media owners and administrators will be ultimately responsible for any violation of this code of conduct. Their media outlet will be closed down and licenses cancelled in case of any violation of the code.

We are fighting a very sensitive war, a war of Pakistan’s survival. We cannot afford to remain oblivious to those who are trying to weaken the very foundations of Pakistani state and society. Long live, Pakistan.

5 responses to “Code of conduct for Pakistani media: Don’t glorify terrorism”

  1. Journalists propose code of ethics for Pakistani media

    LAHORE: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Monday invited comments and suggestions on a draft code of ethics adopted at a recent international media summit attended by journalists, editors, publishers and members of the civil society.

    The summit was organised by the PFUJ and the International Federation of Journalists in Lahore on August 2.

    PREAMBLE: The following Code of Principles for the Conduct of Journalism in Pakistan is based upon the belief that fair, balanced and independent journalism is essential for good governance, effective public administration and the capacity of people in Pakistan to achieve genuine democracy and peace. The code recognises that the creation of a tolerant, peaceful and just society depends upon the freedom of citizens to have access to responsible journalism through media that respect principles of pluralism and diversity.

    For this code to be effective, journalism and media policy in Pakistan must be guided by the following principles:

    * That media, whatever the mode of dissemination, are independent, tolerant and reflect diversity of opinion enabling full democratic exchange within and among all communities, whether based on geography, ethnic origins, religious belief or language;

    * That laws defend and protect the rights of journalists and the rights of all citizens to freedom of information and the right to know;

    * That there is respect for decent working and professional conditions, through legally enforceable employment rights and appropriate regulations that guarantee editorial independence and recognition of the profession of journalism;

    * That there is credible and effective peer accountability through self-regulation by journalists and media professionals that will promote editorial independence and high standards of accuracy, reliability, and quality in media.


    1. Journalism is a profession based upon commitment to principles of honesty, fairness, credibility and respect for the truth.

    2. A journalist is obliged to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards and shall at all times defend the principle of freedom of the press and media.

    3. A journalist shall ensure that information he/she provides is fair, accurate and not subject to falsification, distortion, inappropriate selection, misrepresentation or any form of censorship.

    4. A journalist shall avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as fact.

    5. A journalist shall protect confidential sources of information.

    6. A journalist shall not distort or suppress the truth for commercial, institutional or other special interests.

    7. A journalist shall not accept personal favours, bribes, inducements, nor shall he/she allow any other factor pertaining to his/her own person to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.

    8. A journalist shall disclose any potential conflict of interest where they involve financial gain or political affiliations.

    9. A journalist shall mention a person’s age, sex, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation only if this information is strictly relevant. A journalist shall neither originate nor process material, which incites discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred.

    10. A journalist shall not take prior advantage of information gained in the course of his/her professional duties for private gain.

    11. A journalist shall obtain information, data, photographs, and illustrations only by straightforward means. The use of other means can be justified only by overriding considerations of the public interest. A journalist is entitled to exercise a personal conscientious objection to the use of such means.

    12. A journalist shall avoid intrusion into private life, grief or distress, except when there are overriding considerations of public interest.

    13. A journalist shall not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comment because of time constraints or to gain competitive advantage.

    14. A journalist shall not glorify the perpetrators of illegitimate acts of violence committed under any garb or cause, including honour and religion.

    15. A journalist shall never indulge in plagiarism. Using or passing off the works of another as one’s own and without crediting the source is a serious ethical offence.

    16. A journalist shall strive to ensure that his writing or broadcast contains no discriminatory material or comment based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, age, sex, marital status or physical or mental handicap.

    17. A journalist shall respect and uphold principles of gender equality both in performance of his/her professional duties and in his/her relations with fellow journalists. A journalist shall not discriminate and shall avoid sex-role stereotyping and exploitation in his/her work.

    18. A journalist, while reporting on communal, ethnic, or sectarian violence shall not identify victims by race, ethnicity or sect unless it is in the public interest. When this is the case he/she shall ensure that information is not presented in any manner, which may incite hatred or social disharmony.

    19. A journalist, when reporting on sectarian or communal disturbance, including broadcast media, shall be aware of the danger of publishing images (or words) that may incite public discontent and anger.

    20. A journalist shall not publish or broadcast extreme images of violence, mutilation, corpses or victims of tragedy irrespective of the cause unless it is necessary in the public interest.

    21. A journalist shall respect the rights and needs of vulnerable members of society including women, children, marginalised communities and people suffering from disability.

    22. A journalist shall not identify or photograph minor children, infants who are the offspring of sexual abuse, forcible marriage or illicit sexual union, or where they are victims of trafficking or forcible drafting into conflict.

    23. A journalist shall always be conscious of the need for safety and shall take no action that endangers themselves or their colleagues in their work.

    24. A journalist shall at all times respect other journalists and shall defend journalists where they suffer discrimination or are victimized for the exercise of their profession.

    25. A journalist shall respect the public right to know and shall always act quickly to correct errors of fact or omission.

    26. A journalist shall honour the decisions of the Media Complaints Commission. pr (Daily Times)\09\09\story_9-9-2008_pg7_71

    Violence and terrorism are plagues afflicting society and state in present-day Pakistan. The media should ensure that no programme has the effect of condoning or glamorizing violent or dangerous behaviour. Militant groups or individuals who are notified by the government as terrorists should be clearly identified as terrorists. Efforts should be made to ensure that there is no live coverage which gives publicity to terrorist goals or which could endanger lives or prejudice the attempt to deal with a on going terrorist incident or investigation. Many broadcasters have already gone through the learning curve in respect of restricting graphic scenes of violence, however, clear restrictions in this respect must be guaranteed for the viewers.
    Religious programming should be screened by every broadcaster to ensure that it does not deprecate the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or sect or justifies or promotes sectarian hatred and violence. More generally, broadcasters must ensure that comment or opinion which has the capacity to incite hatred and contempt against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, caste, nation, ethnicity, linguistic origin, colour, religion or sect is not only restricted but also condemned. Mixing religion with crass commercialism has dangerous consequences. Therefore, broadcasters need to assess whether advertising sponsorship of religious programming is in larger public interest.
    Guidelines (by Zafar Abbas)
    There are several guidelines agreed to and published by various news organisations like the BBC, CNN and others to deal with the coverage of a range of sensitive issues. Some of them can be useful for our TV networks to evolve their own working codes.Hijacking, hostage-taking and sieges

    • We must be aware that anything we broadcast may be heard by the perpetrators.

    • Always report demands in context. If it is a hostage situation, mention the nature of the threat to captives in case the demand for money or release of imprisoned militants is not met.

    • Consider carefully the ethical issues raised by providing a platform to perpetrators of such crimes.

    • Ensure a perpetrator is not interviewed live on air.

    • If possible, install a time delay when broadcasting sensitive stories live, for example a school siege or plane hijacking. This is particularly important when the outcome is unpredictable.

    • When reporting stories relating to hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, etc, listen to advice from the authorities about anything which, if reported, could exacerbate the situation and place lives at risk, but of course without becoming the authorities’ mouthpiece.

    Reporting terror

    • Acts of terror should be reported in a timely manner, accurately, fully and responsibly. But there is no value-addition if severed limbs of victims of bomb explosions or bodies are shown.

    • Credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgment.

    • Instead of loosely using the term ‘terrorist’, words which specifically describe the perpetrator — bomber, attacker, gunman, insurgent, militant — may be preferable.

    • It is usually inappropriate to use terms like ‘court martial’ or ‘execute’ in the absence of a clear judicial process. There have been many examples in recent months of media reporting events under labels such as ‘Taliban execute American spy’. This is plain and simple killing, even murder, but not execution.

    • The idea is to move away from using other people’s language, and to remain objective and report in ways that enable viewers to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.

    The one rule of thumb a senior journalist used to mention was that while airing images always put your own self in the shoes of the victims’ families. Would you like to discover from a TV image that a brother or sister has fallen victim to a terror attack? And how would you feel if the broken, shattered and easily identifiable body of someone close is aired on TV without family consent?Then there are very clear guidelines for covering other sensitive issues like violence against women, demonstrations and riots, disasters and accidents. These have been adopted by almost all major media organisations like the BBC, and after every major incident some international media bodies, informed by the latest experience, usually review and improve these guidelines to ensure better and more responsible coverage.

    Indeed these are challenging times for everyone, and the media is no exception. For instance, I could have lived without reading the news of a possible attack on a media organisation or press club. It provided no added information to those who are already in the news business, but could give a cue to militant groups to view the media as one of their enemies and hence fair game.

    A more circumspect approach may help exclude hysteria in our news coverage, improve credibility without affecting circulation or a news channel’s rating.

    (The writer is Resident Editor of Dawn in Islamabad and has also spent many years in broadcast journalism with the BBC)

  2. Saving lives or making headlines?
    Posted by Sana Saleem

    The most heart-warming news I have heard in a while came amidst one of the most devastating incidents – the earthquake in Haiti, which has cost an estimated 200,000 lives. Given the scale of death and destruction in Port-au-Prince, it is not surprising that the media has flooded the Haitian capital, documenting each detail as the catastrophe unfolds. Indeed, it is the most news-worthy incident in recent times. For that reason, I was overwhelmed when I came across a certain rescue incident involving Australian media crews.

    On Monday, an Australian News crew rescued an 18-month-old baby from underneath the rubble, signifying that at times life comes before the job of a journalist.

    Richard Moran, a cameraman with the commercial Nine Network, put down his camera and lifted pieces of concrete out of the way while Nine’s interpreter and fixer Deiby Celestino climbed into the tangled mess to retrieve the child.

    “And then, out of the ruins came this little girl, and I will never forget it. She did not cry. She looked astonished, almost as if she was seeing the world for the first time,” Nine reporter Robert Penfold told The Australian.

    In other words, the media crew had the sense to put down their camera to help, and thus managed to file a story and, most importantly, save a life.

    The incident reminded me of Pakistani news coverage of the Kashmir earthquake in 2005. For most of our media channels, the suffering was more about television ratings than broadcasting sympathetic appeals for help. No doubt, the mainstream media played a significant role in highlighting the people’s plight and conveying calls for help. But at the same time, I wouldn’t deny that looking back today I see the coverage of that quake as the beginning of the media’s fetish for gory images and commercialising the suffering of victims.

    Since that point, certain media outlets have been cashing in on sensational news items without a flicker of self-doubt. From riots to bomb blasts, it’s all about breaking news in the most nerve-wracking way possible.

    Regardless of the gruesome nature of the event, we can be certain that a private channel will not only broadcast the incident live, but repeat the footage half a dozen times in a minute. If you somehow manage to miss the ‘breaking news’ bulletin, you need not worry as it will continue to be repeated exclusively for new viewers for hours on end. And at prime time, the event will be reviewed – along with running commentary – by an ‘investigative’ journalist, nearly choking with excitement.

    Too often it seems as if the media’s newfound liberty has been interpreted as a license to put carnage in the limelight. The race for high rankings and exclusive coverage has etched insensitivity into our social fabric; it has desensitised people to the extent that human lives have become worthless.

    Lately, the mainstream media’s insensitivity has been echoed by citizen journalists. Immediately after a violent incident, media outlets run appeals – not for blood donations – but for pictures or videos from the crime scene. For example, it was horrifying to see people gathering around and snapping away with their cellphones in the aftermath of the Moon Market blast in Lahore.

    These citizen journalists, in tandem with media outlets, invade others’ privacy, create business out of misery, and, more significantly, present obstacles to rescue operations. People crowding a site in the aftermath of a bombing are a common sight, but most of them merely obstruct the movement of ambulances and rescue teams. Innumerable times, one has witnessed media vans and camera crews hovering over the victims of a bombing, rather than lending a helping hand. Rescue work may not be part of their respective job descriptions, but it most certainly is their duty as human beings.

    Unfortunately, in Pakistan there is no accountability for such unethical behaviour. While the media vows to be the source of awareness, it lacks regulation (though there have now been some attempts within the industry to make media coverage of terrorist attacks more responsible).

    A while ago, when the media frenzy was at its peak, a senior duty editor and former news anchor, Osama bin Javaid, expressed his concerns about the insensitivity of the media:

    The reality is that the public has begun to block television screens for children and demonise news channels. If the media does not let its audience feel a sense of self-accountability and participate in decision-making processes, it risks losing credibility – an irreplaceable asset. If the youth, the majority of Pakistanis, are disgusted, disgruntled, and daunted by what they see on air, rather than made aware of the wrongs they need to collectively address, all the good work being done by the media to get the facts out may amount to naught.

    Osama managed to hit the nail on the head while commenting on the media’s violation of basic ethics. But the landscape has shifted since that blog was posted. Today, the problem with news coverage is not the hype, but the problems it creates for rescue teams and paramedic staff.

    Speaking out on this issue is not about hating the media but setting our priorities straight. Media teams and the people at large must learn to work in harmony with rescue teams. While it may be important for the media to report horrific incidents without unduly sanitising or censoring its impact on victims, there are times when coverage intrudes on what should have been private moments. Insensitive questions from reporters undoubtedly make the victims’ misery even more painful. Its times like these that demand sensitive measures, when the call of duty is more about saving lives than making headlines.

  3. From information ‘warfare’ to ‘welfare’ —Qamar Zaman Kaira

    Pakistan is now a functioning democracy confronted by the vestiges of information warfare, which indoctrinated our youth who have become today’s suicide bombers

    Today the democratically elected
    government of Pakistan is tackling the challenge of ensuring freedom of expression and providing access to information to all segments of society. It is doing so in a media environment that is dangerously exposed to the deadly message and tactics of violent extremists who are threatening the peace and very existence of our country.

    As the Federal Information Minister, I hear frequent use of the term ‘information warfare’ as a strategy to counter both extremist messages and hostile posturing from other states. However, my contention is that this term actually carries exclusivist, militarist, and clandestine connotations, which have their origins in the Second World War and the Cold War, when Western nation-states adopted it as a tool to achieve their war objectives.

    Information warfare’s popular synonym, ‘propaganda’, has little room for credibility, authenticity and appeal in modern democratic societies. History shows that propaganda is often short-lived and sometimes counter-productive. It was an effective tool at a time when information technology had not attained the scope and level of sophistication it has reached today. Therefore, ‘information warfare’ needs to be revisited.

    The credibility, receptivity and acceptance of any information determine the success or failure of a government’s outreach strategy. We have several examples where governments tried to use (selective) information to influence, mould and win public opinion in favour of their strategic objectives. During the Afghan jihad of the 1980s, for instance, we saw the absolute tailoring of information warfare and indoctrination of the ideology of jihad, the horrifying effects of which we see today in the form of extremist terror.

    By choosing information warfare during the Afghan jihad, the involved actors, in fact, produced their own gravediggers. Short-term gains were made at the expense of long-term ones for governments, societies and peoples, which resulted in a huge loss of credibility and legitimacy.

    The end result of following this paradigm is that the weapon of words has been replaced by the word, ‘weapon’. In information warfare, truth and objectivity are the first casualties — the very approach of our enemies. Such stereotypical media connotations need to be reviewed, particularly when media is no longer controlled and it has tremendous power.

    We need to de-hyphenate information from warfare, and link information with empowerment and argument. We need a paradigm shift from indoctrination to providing information and education — a shift from ‘information warfare’ to ‘information welfare’.

    For this, we must first come up with alternative idioms and mediums. A new paradigm should be based on ideas of access to information, ideological argumentation, policy articulation, public diplomacy, and strategic communications. If we want our outreach and engagement to be seen credibly and to be accepted, we must start from a point of creative engagement in which truth and objectivity are placed at the centre.

    Pakistan is now a functioning democracy confronted by the vestiges of information warfare, which indoctrinated our youth who have become today’s suicide bombers, whereas, our goal is to put information to the service of people’s empowerment, welfare, and prosperity.

    We are confronted with a war of ideas — tolerance vs. extremism, democracy vs. authoritarianism, rule of law vs. anarchy, homogeneity vs. heterogeneity and exclusivity vs. multiplicity. In this war, Pakistan’s vulnerable population segments are exposed to the message of terrorists, becoming fodder for their sinister recruiting techniques.

    As we confront this menace, will the strategy of information warfare — as we have known it in the past — be able to neutralise, or de-indoctrinate suicidal mindsets breeding in our society today?

    Suicidal mindsets are driven by ideology and not by mere information packaging. Hence, ideology has to be defeated by ideology. Instead of information warfare, we need democratic, argumentative and critical discourses, which are firmly located in the socio-economic, cultural and political issues of Pakistan, guided by our heritage of ideologies of peace, pluralism, and co-existence.

    Who is our real enemy? Our enemy is extremist ideology. How do we dismantle it? By discrediting it and providing alternatives for our audiences. What are our alternatives? They are democratic dialogue, access to information, freedom of expression and opportunity of peaceful political representation.

    Let me clarify that unless Pakistan achieves these critical internal goals, it will remain vulnerable to external threats. Particularly, when we now see our external foes exploiting Pakistan’s domestic problems in their propagandist strategies. In this era of a cross-border and highly synergised media and communications landscape, we cannot rigidly dichotomise between internal and external information and communications strategies.

    Will information warfare rid Pakistan of violence and replace it with a culture of peace; or will information welfare deliver public interest and protect national security by creating an internally strong fortress called Pakistan?

    This is not mere rhetoric. The democratic government has been working to put in place this conceptual alternative to reach our audiences by creating a political and societal ownership of counter-extremism and counter-terrorism. With the onset of military action in Swat and Malakand last year, we launched a range of initiatives that included: daily media briefings, establishment of Crisis Communications Centres, live PTV transmissions for IDPs, large TV screens in IDP camps, an official website, a public service message campaign across nearly 50 TV channels, 30 radio stations and 200 national and regional publications, field engagement of university students, trade unions, bar councils and intellectuals, etc, to raise awareness and garner societal support for our national cause.

    We learned through our experiences that information welfare works where information warfare does not. Had we followed the archaic model of information warfare, we would not have achieved the level of popular support and societal ownership for our decisive action against terrorists. After all, Pakistan has been fighting terror since 2001, but amazingly it was only in 2009 that we saw a change in social response and popular sentiments for our struggle against militancy.

    It was the democratic government’s initiative to launch an informed discourse on the war on terror that turned the tables in Swat and the post-Swat scenario. By articulating and arguing an alternative political and ideological discourse, our initiative served as non-military reinforcement to our valiant soldiers and commanders to boost their morale with popular support for more decisive action.

    We endeavoured to be creative, innovative and credible to win the battle for hearts and minds and, more importantly, to reverse the ideology of death with the ideology of life and liberty.

    What should be our way forward? A shift from indoctrination to enlightenment through a government-media partnership. Theorists have agreed upon the point that indoctrination limits the human mind and imagination, while enlightenment liberates human thinking. The democratic government believes in creating an atmosphere of opportunities for enlightenment rather than getting trapped in the mess of indoctrination and counter-indoctrination.

    We believe that the cancerous disconnect of social enlightenment needs to be plugged urgently. In this struggle, the government and media have a very important role to play as partners. Like Pakistan’s nascent democracy moving towards maturity, Pakistan’s mushrooming media is also journeying towards maturity.

    To facilitate the growth and development of the media, the democratic government has taken some important steps, which include: repealing PEMRA amendments, facilitation of a self-regulatory code of conduct, Public Media Resource Bank, Council of Complaints, Press Council, draft Freedom of Information Act and media fellowships. We also recognise that the Official Secrets Act of 1923 is a colonial hangover of information warfare, something which needs to be reviewed.

    Our media policy is founded on the fundamental rights enshrined in Article 9 and Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 19 underlines the importance of freedom within the parameters of statehood, pre-empting any anarchist tendencies in the name of freedom of the press.

    Pakistan’s democratic government is committed to promote freedom of expression and access to information in the greater public interest. But democracy, like communication, is a two-way street. To deliver on its promise, the democratic government needs the support of an informed citizenry that can not only identify problems but can also offer solutions for good governance. Our efforts must become collaborative.

    The writer is Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting. This article is based on excerpts from a speech he recently delivered at the National Defence University, Islamabad\01\19\story_19-1-2010_pg3_5

  4. Media must develop code of conduct: Sherry
    By: Ramzan Chandio | Published: May 04, 2009

    KARACHI – Former federal minister for information and PPP leader, Sherry Rehman, has emphasised on the media that it must form a code of conduct to protect itself, as in South Asia, only Pakistan has no such regulatory framework.
    Speaking at a seminar, ‘PPF-Aslam Ali Press Freedom Awards’ organised by Pakistan Press Foundation in collaboration with UNESCO on Sunday, she said the media was under threat from various sides as at least 15 journalists were killed in one year which was ever highest number in the world. The event was organised in connection with the world press freedom day.
    Former journalist-turned politician said the media industry had increased immensely during the last few years, but now it was passing from suppressing environment as without any warning, a huge number of journalists was being sacked.
    She said that at present media was under difficult environment, so journalists community should unite on common cause. She said that a sectarian type of differences had come between journalists.
    Sherry regretted that being hub of media organisations, only one gathering was being organised on Press Freedom Day in the City.
    She said that it was correct that present government was issuing advices to media to support the government as some TV anchors and columnists were openly criticising government.She further said the freedom of Press was a priority in the PPP’s manifesto. “During first 100 days of present government, as federal information minister she had moved a bill in National Assembly for bringing amendments in PEMRA rules. However, she admitted that PPP government has not abolished anti-media laws, introduced by former General Musharraf after his second coup on November 3, 2007.

    Sherry said the sustainable democracy was linked with independent media. She opined that complete abolition of PEMRA law was not the solution for freedom of media. She suggested that media itself should form a code of ethics which will be acceptable to government.
    She said that during her tenure of federal minister for information, she had submitted a summary with the prime minister for establishment of Journalist Victim Fund for the betterment of journalists.
    She also condemned the recent threats by Taliban to media and said that people of Pakistan gave vote to political parties, so media should encourage and advocate views of these democratic parties.Amber Junaid, Communication Officer of UNESCO in Pakistan, said that UNESCO supports the freedom of Press as it had given a slogan that freedom of Press to promote dialogue in the world.

    Meanwhile, Awais Aslam, secretary of PPF, senior journalists including Idris Bakhtiar, Zahid Hussain, Faisal Aziz, SM Fazal and Qudratullah Chaudhry said that the journalists were still facing threats.

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