Media and nation rise & fall together: Minister

Karachi, February 13, 2013 (PPI-OT): Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Syed Sumsam Bukhari has said that the soft power of the media can be a great blessing for any nation if it is used judiciously and within the limits it is supposed to operate.

That is why it is said that the media and nation rise and fall together. He said that the media has become a major contributor in the formulation of political, economic, defense, foreign, social and cultural policies of the governments all over the world. He was addressing the seminar on “Media: Role as Soft Power” organised by Pakistan Air Force Air War College.

The Minister said that Media and government have a complementary role in the task of nation building. While media is a bulwark of all the fundamental rights and human liberties and a watchdog against the government, the government also is bound to respect and facilitate fundamental rights to its citizens and also act as a watchdog against the media to ensure that while enjoying its freedom of expression, it remains within the bounds of moral and professional ethics, respects social values and adheres to the regulatory mechanism in place.

He emphasized that Freedom of Expression is recognized as one of the fundamental rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. He added that However there is no concept of an unbridled freedom of expression.

The social responsibility theory which is regarded as the magna carte of the freedom of expression and has provided guidelines to the media organizations and their international representatives bodies in drawing up their professional codes of ethics, while vehemently espousing the cause of the freedom of the media also underscore the need for media to act in a responsible manner.

It also considers government intervention justified if the media tries to transcend the limits and acts in an erratic manner because ultimately it is the responsibility of the state and the government to ensure that all entities within the state including media remain within the parameters prescribed for them and make a positive contribution to the strengthening of the state and promoting the well being of the people. He has emphasized that role of the government is imperative because the media has both constructive and destructive roles.

Sumsam Bukhari said that the process of facilitating media in Pakistan started during the first government of Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto when the system of news print quota which was used as a ploy to gag the media was done away with and cable news was also introduced in the country. He added that the present PPP government immediately after assuming charge nullified the amendments made in the PEMRA Ordinance by the outgoing dictator during the lawyers’ movement designed to curb media freedom.

For the first time the right of access to information has been made a fundamental right through Eighteenth Amendment by adding article 19-A in the constitution. He said that in recognition of the new culture of self-regulation by the media, the Press Council has been completed and activated which is interacting with the media to evolve a regulatory mechanism with the consensus of all the stake holders.

He has said to the audience that the government has also established Journalists Welfare Fund with 200 million initially which will be increased annually. It will be an endowment fund purported to provide relief to the journalists and their families who fall victim to terrorism in the line of their duty.

He said, “I myself being a firm believer in the freedom of expression and independence of media, do appreciate the efforts of the PAF War College to educate the participants of the course from Pakistan and from the friendly countries on the role and importance of the media in the formulation of the war strategies besides raising the level of their professional ingenuity.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326

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