PFUJ condemns moves to curb media freedom

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Hyderabad: 17 May 2024: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists PFUJ has strongly condemned the draconian and fascist moves of the Punjab and federal governments which what it calls are meant to stifle dissenting voices and curbing media freedom.

In a joint statement on Friday the president of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Afzal Butt and Secretary General Arshad Ansari said the Federal and Punjab governments are bent on imposing fascist laws that would make it impossible for journalists to carry out their professional duties and expose wrongdoings of the government.

It may be mentioned that the Punjab government has decided to amend the defamation law while the federal defense minister Khawja Asif has revealed the government's plans to punish anyone who is involved in spreading any document that has been marked as secret. Asif made it clear that anyone found involved in doing so would have to face a two year imprisonment.

They questioned the rational of amending the defamation law, asserting there are already enough laws in the country to deal with the question of defamation. The two leaders of PFUJ accused Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz of following a dictatorial path. "Attempts are now being made to silence journalists with the fear of high courts, tribunals, fines and arrests. We expect that the PPP, an ally of the Punjab government, will come forward and speak for press freedom and raise its voice against this law,”

They said and added any legislation in this regard should be done with the consultation of all stakeholders."

The two leaders of PFUJ said that the new proposed defamation law called the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 is more draconian than the Defamation Ordinance, 2002 imposed by the military dictator general Pervaiz Musharraf. "The bill features a dangerously loose definition of defamation and imposed much higher financial penalties and blanket restrictions on commenting on ongoing cases. The sole purpose of this bill is to strike fear in anyone who may be contemplating criticising or expressing their frustrations at those in power."

They noted that Maryam Nawaz is following the footsteps of Musharraf to curb media freedom.

PFUJ also took exception to the statement of Khawja Asif, asserting that the defense minister is doing the bid of the invisible forces that have always worked against democracy. "The PML N committed blunder in the past by imposing PECA 2016 and now it is on a suicidal path by talking about imposing Secret Act draconian laws and establishing various authorities to control media and social media."

PFUJ leaders warned that such moves of the government would boomerang on the N league. "The laws that N league governments in Punjab and Islamabad are trying to impose will haunt not only them but millions of Pakistanis. Therefore, the governments must abandone such moves before it is too late."

They appealed to all democratic forces and the civil society to oppose such governments' moves. "We want to make it very clear that we will not sit silent. We will launch a country wide struggle against these fascist plans of the government."

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