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A grave threat to freedoms

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BY approving the proposal for a law to stifle the print, electronic and digital media, the federal cabinet has put parliament on trial. Will it allow the executive absolute control over the media, or will it defend the most fundamental freedoms of the media and the people — which are also essential prerequisites to the establishment of a democratic order?

In 2017, the establishment conceived a plan to tighten its control over the media, but a storm of protest compelled the government to shelve the idea. This plan resurfaced last year. Democratic-minded sections were amazed at the new government’s keenness to adopt the proposal, contrary to its policy of ignoring the legislative initiatives of its predecessors. The government failed to receive support from any quarter.

After the cabinet’s signal to go ahead, the plan has again been rejected by newspaper owners, editors and journalists. All of them have called for consultations with the stakeholders. No responsible authority can ignore such a united stand by the media community.

The rights under threat, however, are not negotiable. The scope of any government-media consultation will, therefore, have a limited agenda. Before we discuss the plan, the question of jurisdiction ought to be resolved.

No valid reason has been advanced to justify the unification of the media laws.

The press is a provincial subject. Punjab and KP have replaced the central press law with provincial enactments. The federal government obviously hopes to........

© Dawn