Islamabad, August 24, 2021: Rejecting the PMDA, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) is yet another example of this government’s crackdown on freedom of expression. The state of media and press freedom in Pakistan is already in shambles and now they want to control the media through this Authority which is unconstitutional and is a violation of Article 19 and 19A ”.
“The fact that they kept the final draft of the PMDA law and the entire drafting process secret, raises many questions about their intentions. The government clearly wants broad powers so that they can control the narrative and muzzle criticism. Instead of protecting media freedom, they are bringing back the draconian laws of Zia era,” she added.
Rehman asked, “Why is the controversial PMDA bill being moved to the cabinet for approval when all the concerned parties have strongly rejected it? There should have been consultations with the key stakeholders on this law. Why is the Information Ministry not working towards creating a more fair and independent media in Pakistan?”
“According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the PMDA aims to bring all media in Pakistan; print, television, radio, films, and digital media, under one regulator. Through media tribunals, the government will now have the power to impose fines for those who violate its code of conduct or publish content it deems to be fake news. They will also get to appoint government officials on key positions. All these reeks of the government’s ulterior motive to control the media, she added.
Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying that, “We strongly reject this bill and demand that the government takes it back. The impact of this dictatorial law will be devastating for journalism and not to forget it is an infringement of our basic human rights”.