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Media defenders seek parties’ commitment to press freedom ahead of polls

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  • Media organisations call for freedom of expression, protection of journalists. 
  • Impunity for crimes against journalists, media is very high in Pakistan, they say. 
  • PPP, PML-N, PTI, JI among other parties that were delivered joint letter. 

ISLAMABAD: As the general elections approach, media organisations in Pakistan Tuesday launched an appeal to the key mainstream and regional political parties involved in the election campaign to commit to concrete measures in favour of press freedom. 

Pakistan’s leading press clubs, national and provincial unions of journalists, Paris-based global media watchdog organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and RSF’s Pakistan partner Freedom Network called on heads of contesting parties to pen their commitment to defending the freedom of expression and protection of journalists in their party manifestos.

“Impunity for crimes against journalists and media is very high in Pakistan, which was among the five countries included in a pilot project of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity,” said the joint letter on Thursday.

Freedom Network’s Annual Impunity 2022 report stated that there were “no convictions in 96% of journalist killings in the past 10 years,” the letter added. 

“Such a high percentage of impunity for crimes against media practitioners and assistants is alarming and puts journalists in extreme danger for practising journalism, thus, denying citizens of Pakistan their right to know and access information – the two fundamental rights enshrined in the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, guaranteed by Articles 19 and 19A.”

Karachi Press Club, Lahore Press Club, Quetta Press Club, National Press Club, Islamabad, Peshawar Press Club, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Karachi Union of Journalists, Punjab Union of Journalists, Balochistan Union of Journalists, Khyber Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition (PJSC)-Federal chapter, Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND), Freedom Network, Reporters Without Borders and TV journalist Hamid Mir co-authored this joint letter.

“In the run-up to elections, the ball is now in the court of the political parties as regards defending press freedom, as well as journalistic independence and pluralism, as fundamental guarantees of a functioning democracy. Pakistan’s press clubs along with journalists’ unions, press freedom organisations and editors bodies for electronic media, call on the leaders of the main political parties to make a concrete commitment to our proposals, starting with the search for legislative guarantees for the protection of journalists and the fight against impunity for crimes of violence against them,” it mentioned. 

The statement recalled that traditionally, political parties were strong supporters of freedom of expression and press freedom in Pakistan. “Journalistic institutions such as press clubs and unions of journalists remained steadfast in upholding the constitutional rights to freedom of expression, of which journalism is an important tool used to exercise the right,” the statement said.

“We ask these federal and regional political parties to take our call into consideration and state unambiguously that they will support press freedom, the right to reliable information and the defence of journalists, that they will end impunity for crimes against media through Pakistan’s legal framework and that they will bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists,” they emphasised. 

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP), Muttehida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Baluchistan Awami Party, Baluchistan National Party (Mengal group), Qaumi Watan Party, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), Hazara Democratic Party and National Party were delivered this joint letter to seek their commitment to defending press freedom if they are elected to national and provincial parliament in the forthcoming general elections.

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US envoy urges deeper strengthening of relations with Pakistan

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The significance of strengthening relations with Pakistan was highlighted by US Ambassador Donald Blome on Thursday.

Blome visited the Chaukhandi cemetery in Karachi, based on the information. President Donald Blome and other delegates were cordially welcomed by Sindh Minister of Culture and Tourism Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah on this particular occasion.

Narendra Kumar, Heather Murphy, and Zahra Hajiani were among the delegation members who visited Chaukhandi Graveyard’s historic tombs with the American envoy, Acting Consul General Jimmy Mauldin.

Highlighting the rich historical significance of Chaukhandi graveyard, Minister Zulfiqar Ali Shah shared his ideas with the US ambassador.

Blome highlighted the Chaukhandi tombs for their exquisite craftsmanship and architectural design. He promised to help Pakistani visitors with their visa requirements.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), he promised to promote the nation’s historical sites.

In the meantime, Shah stated, “The Sindh government is taking steps to provide all sorts of facilities to the tourists.”

Pakistan will receive additional assistance from the US to lower methane gas emissions.

The US decided to help Pakistan lower its methane gas emissions earlier this month.

At a USAID Climate Financing event, US Ambassador Blome stated: “We are working very hard to lower methane gas emissions from dairy farming. The Green Climate Fund in Pakistan will be consulted for funding this initiative.”

“As of 2030, there are global efforts to reduce the temperature by 1 degree Celsius. The US-Pakistan Green Alliance is being followed by the collaboration with Pakistan, according to Blome.

“The problems can only be addressed by providing the stakeholders with financial and technical resources,” he continued.

The government’s first aim is to revitalise the cattle industry, according to Federal Secretary Dr. Fakhre Alam. Raising dairy farming’s production capacity will help it overcome its environmental problems.”

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Shehbaz travels to the UAE in order to strengthen trade relations.

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This visit, which is being accompanied by a high-level delegation made up of important ministers such as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar, and advisor Tariq Fatemi, is intended to strengthen bilateral ties and expand cooperation between the two countries.
Prime Minister Sharif will visit President Muhammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. The high-level gathering will cover Pakistani and UAE bilateral relations, with an emphasis on commerce and investment.

Along with exploring strategic alliances and shared interests that can help their respective nations, they are also expected to concentrate on talking about ways to advance collaboration across a range of industries.

Prime Minister Sharif has talks planned with other Emirati leaders, businesspeople, and heads of financial organisations in addition to his diplomatic engagements. In an effort to promote economic cooperation and draw in investment, he is also scheduled to meet with businessmen and investors from Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The Shehbaz intends to encourage UAE companies to extend their operations into the Pakistani market by interacting with influential businesspeople and highlighting investment prospects in Pakistan.

These exchanges will offer a forum for talking about doable ways to strengthen business relations and carry out initiatives that will benefit both parties. Pakistan’s determination to enhance its political and economic ties with the United Arab Emirates is demonstrated by the visit.

After ending his day-long journey to Iran to offer condolences for the terrible death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan.

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Memon accuses temporary government of ‘delaying’ the BRT Red Line project

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On Thursday, Sindh Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon accused the interim administration of “delaying” the Red Line project of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Memon stated what he thought, saying, “The BRT Red Line project was mission impossible. However, the project has now begun to be worked on.”

“The reason government is formed is to solve the issues that the people face. “The government is working tirelessly to bring relief to the masses,” he declared.

Memon declared, “It’s also being done about the unlawful bus stands. The passengers will have access to shuttle service from us.”

“A large number of transport projects have already begun. “We aim to ensure that every individual receives a chance to work,” he continued.

Pakistan was ‘started to damage’ by the founder of PTI.

Memon reported on Thursday that a campaign to hurt the nation was started by the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Memon said at a Karachi event: “Israel discusses the human rights violations in Pakistan. Israel, a party to the Palestinian holocaust, is endorsing the PTI’s founder. Israel has provided election funding to the PTI’s founder.”

“The worst election tampering in 2018 produced the PTI founder’s victory. Police officers, the parliament, and the PTV were all attacked,” he claimed.

“The entire country was closed due to a 126-day protest,” Memon claimed.

The PTI founder was made fun of by Memon, who said, “The PTI founder had always embraced the politics of anarchy.”

Memon stated the following when discussing the state of law and order in Sindh: “The Sindh government is serious about the state of law and order in the province. In terms of keeping Sindh peaceful, everyone is in agreement.”

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