Senate panel for creation of consensus on journalists protection,welfare bill

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 14 (APP): A sub-committee of the Senate
Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage (IBHN)Monday examining the bill related to protection of journalists and their welfare decided to try to create consensus among the stakeholders.

The meeting chaired by Senator Mushahidullah Khan, its convener decided to extend invitation to All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS),Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and Council of Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) for its next meeting.

The meeting was held here to examine the bill titled ‘The journalists protection and Welfare Bill 2011’.

The meeting was also attended by Senator Rubina Khalid, the member and Raja Zafarul Haq, one of the 22 movers of the bill.

Secretary IBNH, Saba Mohsin Raza said that the government was serious and sincere in taking practical steps to provide protection to the media houses and working journalists.

She said that recently Minister for Information, Broadcsting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid wrote a letter to the chief ministers of the four provinces for providing security to media houses and journalists in their respective
provinces.

Moreover she said that the meeting of the committee on journalsits security headed by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting would be held soon after his return from official visit abroad.

The sub-committee was informed that summery had been moved for appointment of Chairman 8th Wage Board Award and his name would be notified after approval by the competent authority.

The committee asked the government to expedite the process for appointment of the Chairman of 8th Wage Board Award.

The sub-committee was also given a briefing about the steps taken by the present government for protecting the media houses and journalists.

The sub-committee asked the ministry to point out those clauses of the draft bill which were related to the proprietaries of the media houses as it was mutual responsibility of the government and the owners to ensure safer working environment to the journalists.

Leader of the House Raja Zafrul Haq said that the bill was
moved in 2011 when situation was very bad adding that,now with the passage of time overall security situation had improved.

He said the second part of the bill was related to welfare of the media persons and implementation of wage board award was one of such issues.

He urged the media houses to play their due role in provision of security to media.

The committee was informed that after adoptation of 18th amendment, issued related to Wage Board and security of the media were devolved to the provinces.

However the committee opined that as per law, federal laws were applicable till the provinces did the their own legislation.

The ministry officials told the committee that security audit of 34 media houses had been done and most of them had been provided panic button facility for any emergency situation.

Moreover the security guards have been trained how to deal with emergency situations.

Similar facilities have been provided to media houses in all four provincial capitals of the provinces and the same will be expanded to other cities.

The committee was informed that the ministry had requested for Rs 224 million grant for creating endowment fund for the journalists.

The committee recommended that the funds should be released as early as possible.
Earlier President PFUJ Afzal Butt said that the media persons had high expectations with this sub-committee and expressed the hope something tangible would come out of its deliberations.

He appreciated Minister for IBNH Senator Pervaiz Rashid for sending the summery to PM House for approval of the name of Chairman Wage Board Award despite APNS did not name its representatives.