Fawad grieved over demise of renowned columnist M Tufail
File Photo

ISLAMABAD, May 03 (APP): Reiterating the government’s commitment to ensure free and independent media, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Monday said the present regime under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan regarded the freedom of press as a fundamental, democratic and constitutional right which needed to be protected.

In a message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, he said the development of an independent and responsible media was vital as it played a constructive role in nation-building as the fourth pillar of the state.

He said, “We join the journalist community in commemorating the World Press Freedom Day. On this auspicious occasion we reiterate the abiding commitment of Government of Pakistan to ensure free and independent media in the country which stems from our unswerving belief that freedom of expression is the foundation stone of any modern, progressive, civilized and democratic society.”

The minister categorically said there was no concept of media censorship in the country, whatsoever.

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He said media in Pakistan enjoyed unprecedented freedom to report, be it politics, economy or any other area. “The Government neither believes nor practices any press advice. Rather it encourages self-regulation by media.”

The federal government, Fawad said, was taking all possible measures to create a congenial environment for the journalists to perform their professional obligations.

He said the number of steps undertaken to ensure welfare and security of the journalists and media workers include, the announcement of 8th Wage Board Award, the establishment of Information Commission and pursuing a legal frame work (Journalist Protection Bill) that would go a long way in ensuring safety and security of the journalist community.

He said Ministry of Information fully supported the idea of Journalists Protection Act and was striving to get it through. “Likewise we are keen to equip Pakistan media with modern technologies and improve human resource.”

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The working journalists under a certain criteria would a be accommodated in the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme, he said adding the government was also contemplating to award Sehat Insaf cards to media persons to enable them avail healthcare facilities for themselves and their families.

The minister paid tributes to the martyrs of journalism who lost their lives in pursuit of truth and upholding honour and sanctity of the noble profession.

He also commended the efforts of journalists who were at the forefront in creating public awareness about the Covid-19 and conducting a sustained persuasive campaign for observing the relevant standard operating procedures and protective measures to guard against the pandemic.

Fawad extended the assurance that the government would continue to facilitate the growth of free and responsible media in Pakistan and strive to ensure the safety and security of the working journalists.