APP91-13 ISLAMABAD: May 13 – Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for I&B addressing the inaugural session of two-day International Conference of News Agencies. APP

ISLAMABAD, May 13 (APP):Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb Sunday said media could be an effective tool in bridging the gaps and catering to the appetite for peace and stability among the nations having tense borders.
She was addressing the opening ceremony of two-day International Conference of News Agencies titled Pakistan’s Media: Opportunities and Challenges, with special focus on News Agencies: Emerging Professional Challenges.
The minister said there was great craving for peace among the countries and dialogue was the key in conflict resolution in that connection. She said South Asian region was facing the challenges of population growth and environmental pollution, and urged regional media to educate the masses to deal with the issues, besides promoting peace.
She said today’s media focus was on politics, but the demands of consumers and viewers were changing as entertainment channels were capturing markets and gaining more viewership. This manifestation of transformative tendency among viewers was indeed reflection of the society’s responsiveness and resilience.
She said that media played pivotal role in guarding democracy in Pakistan and creating awareness among the masses about their fundamental rights. The people of Pakistan paid their gratitude to all media, including print, electronic, social media and news agencies for championing cause of democracy.
She said that dynamics of media landscape were changing fast and the government had urged them to evolve self accountability mechanism as regulation would no more serve the purpose. She said that bonds which would develop during the conference should not end here, rather they should be the beginning of a lasting and durable relationship, as people-to-people contacts could reshape the media landscape in the region and help in conflict resolution by promoting peace, harmony and coexistence.
The minister said that for media only politics and politicians were the topics as it ignored important issues like natural resources, climate change, water shortage, population boom, health and education sectors.
She said that the experienced journalists from news agencies of the world attending the conference should turn a new leaf and start focussing on real issues being faced by the world, which also transcended international borders and affected everybody’s life.
The minister said it was heartening that democracy in Pakistan was completing historic 10 years without any interruption and next general election was due in July.
The minister said as democracy was passing through evolution, the media, the fourth pillar of the state, was also evolving with the passage of time which was a healthy sign. She said that media in Pakistan was highly vibrant, but it was going through challenging times.
The minister said that during the past 70 years, Pakistan faced challenges in many fields and media was no exception. She said that media in Pakistan was free and independent and duly playing its role of oversight and watchdog.
A flagship and landmark law of Right to Information was promulgated last year to ensure access to information and transparency in governance, she said. The law would not only provide access to people about public sector information, but also create conducive environment to promote and strengthen fairness in government business, she added.
She said that social media had made its mark by making an easier access for the people to give their points of view and express their opinions freely. Now social media had become a reality as over 60 per cent population of Pakistan comprised youth, who relied on that medium, adding that it was crucial to engage them positively.
She also informed the participants of the moot that the government was contemplating legislation to mitigate cyber risks. While dilating upon the issue of fake and bogus news, she said that the lessons learnt and experiences shared by the participants could be instrumental in dealing with the issue being faced by the entire world.
The minister said that in the era of race for breaking news, the official news agency APP first looked in to the credibility of the news, unlike other news agencies which while struggling to match the pace of media, sometimes created the phenomena of fake news.
She said during the past four and a half years, Pakistan had made tremendous strides in the war against terrorism due to unparalleled sacrifices of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies and people.
She said Pakistan had now become much safer than the past. However, she said despite defeating terrorists, war of perception was still going on. The participants of the conference after seeing the real face of Pakistan would help dispel the negative perception about it, she hoped.
She said during the past 40 years art, music and culture also suffered due to the menace of terrorism and extremism.
She thanked the foreign delegates for attending the first-ever news agencies conference organized by the Associated Press of Pakistan.
National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua, Acting Secretary Information Shafqat Jalil and APP Managing Director Masood Malik also addressed the inaugural session.