Pakistan marks World Press Freedom Day
By Kiyya Qadir Baloch
ISLAMABAD: The World Press Freedom Day 2013 was observed across the country, with concerned stake holders reiterating pledge to fight against media gag and ensure safety of journalists, here on Friday.
In this connection, a seminar was organised by UNESCO at a local hotel in the federal capital to mark the World Press Freedom Day.
Eminent journalists, politicians, human rights activists, lawyers, social workers including a large number of students from Mass Communication department of National University Modern Languages (NUML), International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and NUST attended the symposium and exchanged their views with panelists on current challenges of press freedom and safety issues faced by the media in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan.
Director UNESCO, MS Kozue Kay Nagata and UN resident coordinator in Islamabad Timo Pakkala, were the distinguished guests at the seminar.
Speaking on the occasion Ms Nagata appreciated the professionalism of journalists in Pakistan, working in extremely challenging situation. She said that, “We support this day to emphasise the importance of freedom of expression and free flow of diversified opinions because media have an increasingly important power to boost dynamic and positive change”
She also denounced the media gags imposed by different governments in their countries, adding that freedom of expression had become a global issue and more steps were needed to ensure media freedom across the world.
She said that free media could ensure transparency, accountability and the rule of law; they promote participation in public and political discourse, and contribute to the fight against poverty.
She also condemned the incidents of violence against working journalists in different countries of the world. She expressed grave concern over the journalists killed in the line of duty.
Timo Pakkala, UN resident coordinator while giving his remarks, said the UNO was strongly committed to coordinate action, raise awareness and support Pakistan in upholding international principles and develop legislation for the freedom of expression and free flow of information.
“We work closely with all member States of the United Nations and their citizens to strengthen safeguards for freedom of expression and press freedom” he added.
He further said the security and safety of journalists all over the world continued to be a challenge due to an upward trend in killings of journalists, media workers and social media producers.
Speaking on the occasion, senior journalist and eminent anchorperson Hamid Mir said media was facing challenges, limitation and operational difficulties in reporting in Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, adding that media was facing pressure from State sponsored death squad, Baloch insurgents and criminals in Balochistan.
“Journalists in Balochistan get dictation from all concerned stakeholders. Those working in Balochistan cannot follow journalistic norms as they face threats, intimidation and censure,” he said, adding that there were red lines and they could not dare to have objective reporting.
Others speakers included prominent journalist Muhammad Zia Uddin and Faisal Zaka, who said that different pressure groups and powerful elements had been harassing and terrifying media persons in Pakistan as some 90 journalists have been killed in the province during last 10 years.
Acting Director of UN Information Centre Kazuo Tase, in his thanking note, appreciated the Pakistani media for its decade long struggle for press freedom and expressed hope for stabilising the democratic culture in the country in future.