ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday reaffirmed the government’s strong commitment to support all efforts that promote and uphold the shining principles of freedom of expression and free media.
Addressing an event organized by Islamabad Journalist Safety Forum on the theme of the UN ten years Plan of Action, he said his government believes that the freedom of expression is sacrosanct and will remain at the heart of development of democracy.
The Prime Minister noted that democracy and media reinforce each other and there can be no democracy without freedom of expression. He said his government would be part of efforts aimed at making Pakistani democracy stronger through greater free media.
Shehbaz Sharif pointed out that Pakistan became the first country in Asia to pass legislation on the Safety of Journalists at the federal and the provincial level in Sindh province. He said the government will continue to support the ongoing efforts in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to legislate on safety of journalists.
He said the parliament passed a landmark Protection of Journalists and Media Professional Acts after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders. He said this act recognizes the rights of journalists and seeks to protect media persons from all kinds of ill treatment and aggression. He assured the full implementation of this legislation.
The Prime Minister said his government believes that no journalists should be called out or attacked for exercising their freedom of expression as guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan. Referring to the murder of senior Journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, Shehbaz Sharif said he has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a commission to investigate the murder and hoped some action will be taken in this regard.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of France Nicolas Galey was appreciative of the legislation passed by Pakistani Parliament for protection of journalists. He said this is a major step forward. He said his embassy will continue to promote media exchanges between Pakistan and France.
Norway’s Ambassador to Pakistan Per Albert Ilsaas said the global community must ensure a safe environment for the journalists both online and offline. He said the Protection of Journalist and Media Professional Act by Pakistan is a major step towards ensuring the safety of journalists and media practitioners and protecting them from violence and harassment.
Alluding to the collaboration between Denmark and Pakistan in the field of media, Danish Ambassador to Pakistan Jakob Linulf said his country backs community journalism in Pakistan. He said our support goes to a growing eco system of media startups in the country. He said we recently arranged a visit of Pakistani journalists to Denmark to enhance their capacity to report on climate change.