RMNP Seminar on 21st century Media: new frontiers, new barriers’ Pak Govt urged to enact right to information law MAY 3 2011, Ahmed Pur East (Rural Pakistan)

AhmedpurEast. May 3 (Rural Pakistan) -The social networks and civil society broadcasters are the new frontier of
communications. Independent broadcasters play a fundamental role in situations of conflict and natural or climate change related disasters and ; in protecting and giving information to rural populations and in reconstruction processes. This was the crux of speeches delivered at a seminar titled “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers” organised by the Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) in connection with World Press Freedom Day here at Jinnah hall Ahmedpur East. President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar,former Chairman Pakistan Press Foundation(PPF) Fazal Qureshi,Content Editor Mediators Karachi Khalid Saeed and senior journalists Ghaznafar Sial,Mian Abdul Rauf,Mohd Akmal Sheikh,Mazhar Rasheed,Shahid Bashir Chaudhry,Mohd Salman Farooqi,Shabbir Ahmed Qureshi and ZiaulHaq Shehzad representing six rural press clubs of Liaquatpur, Uchsharif, Chanigoth, Mubarakpur, Uchsharif,AhmedpurEast and National Press Union spoke on the occasion.


The greatest development for freedom of expression is of course Internet. This is one medium with the promise of making Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality. The “right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers” seen almost within a reach of rapidly increasing proportion of humanity, they observed. Speakers stated that the Internet also has the potential of providing of global reach to third world media,as publications in rural areas of Pakistan have now entered the era of electronic publishing and news dissemination through the Internet, they observed.


The RMNP, Rural Press Clubs and National Press Union leaders and other speakers representing mainstream political parties contended that it is universal practice all over the world that journalists are being facilitated in discharge of their professional duties, but it is very unfortunate that instead of providing them assistance the Journalists are targeted, assaulted and tortured. Such uncalled practice is very dangerous and indicates menace of incidents of scuffling the media persons especially Pakistani being witnessed frequently. They also demanded the government to fullfill its promises and enact the right to information law, replacing Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 so that journalists and citizens could have access to information by public bodies. President AhmedpurEast Press Club Salman Farooqi read the urdu translation of the joint message of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, UN High Commissinof Human Rights Navi Pillay and Director General Unesco Ms Irina Bokova in the seminar while the urdu translations of the messages of CEO WAN-IRFA,Director International Press Institute,CEO Global Editors Network, President Commonwealth Journalists Association,Member Governors Board of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative(CHRI)and Director Doha Centre for Media Freedom were also distributed among participants.


President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar presented annual press freedom report and revealed that Pakistan has become the deadliest place for journalists where 18 journalist were killed in the line of duty in 2010.He called upon Pakistan government to issue licences for community radio.He lamented that Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that does not issue licences for community radio.The unintended conequence of this misguided policy is that militant organisations ,who are broadcasting without governmentpermission have a monoply over the airwaves in tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw province. He said that only way to counter the impact of radio broadcasts by militants is to grant licences for community radios. Regarding the security conditions of journalists, he said that things are dismal and bleak.One reason why attacks on media is rise that there is virtual impunity for those who threaten, harras and attack the media.He cited the reports of CPJ and RSF about media situation in Pakistan.President RMNP stressed that there was a need for founding an institution for training of journalists who report from conflict areas.There were different kinds of conflicts and journalists should be aware of environment ,they are in he said. President RMNP also stressed on developing a code of conduct for journalists working in conflict zones, along with standardising the safety procedures that can help to survive in conflict situation.
District General Secretary PPP Bahawalpur Mohd Ali Ahsan and Bahawalpur National Awami Party leader Mian Ilyas Ayaz paid rich tributes to brave Pakistani journalists who were killed while performing there duties. They said that Pakistani media is more vibrant
as compare to Indian media which is highlighting downtrodden issues without any fear.District General Secretary PPP Bahawalpur said that PPP believes in the freedom of press and will implement new media policy soon while taking board all stake holders.
Key note speaker Political Assistant to Chief Minister Punjab Engineer Mohd BalighurRehman MNA said that a free press is prerequisite for a functioining democracy ,for people to be heard, they must have a voice. Journalists had been that voice for centuries, often bringing powerful change to societies, toppling dictatorships, exposing crimes against humanity, he added. MP reminded that in Pakistan two years ago when thousands of young lawyers and civil rights activists armed with furiously tweeting cell phones galvanized the media and public to overthrow a military dictator and help install an independent judiciary. He criticised federal government for now allowing to air a private sports channel BalighurReham commended the Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP) for bringing to light the issues surrounding press freedom. He demanded of Pakistan government to review and abolish all laws that restrict press freedom and investigate fully all murders of journalists. BalighurRehman said that his thoughts and prayers are with our journalists friends who face intimidation, physical harm and, worse death in the pursuit of their craft.


World Press Freedom Day seminar was attended by PML(N) leaders Qazi Adnan Farid,Mohd Siddique Asim,PPP leaders Haji Mohd Akhter,Mohd Hanif Rafique,President Sarafa Association Mehr Abdul Rehman,President Iron Merchants Association Jamal Abul Nasar,President Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran Mian Mohd Younas,Ex-Union Nazmeens Mian Rasheed Javed,Makhdoom Syed Hussnein Askari and Qasim Qureshi besides a large number of journalists civil society activits and office bearers of local NGOs

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