By: Jamil Soomro
Asif Ali Zardari, both he and his party always believe in a free media and in the freedom of press which is an essential element of democracy, transparency, good governance and accountability.
History of Pakistan is witnessed that Asif Ali Zardari has supported genuine rights of journalists and press freedom on every level. Mr. Zardari has always raised voice for the rights of journalists of the Pakistan and supports them in the solution of their problems.
He (Mr Zardari) always said in his speeches that “The efforts of the journalist community are truly commendable for their struggle in upholding the freedom of press in Pakistan. They have sacrificed a lot for upholding the truth and providing citizens with factual information”.
One of the PPP`s Government’s achievements in Media industry are to restored the Complete press freedom, the Sixth Wage Board award was announced for the newspaper workers including suchaward was also implemented in the APP.
Asif Zardari was not only a democratically-elected president, he was the first and so far the only president who was all-powerful yet used the power of his office as well as his own political capital to strengthen the democratic process and the elected parliament rather than undermine it. In a culture where the smallest functionary of the government is fiercely resistant to any attempt to check let alone reduce his power, it was Asif Ali Zardari who had unilaterally and voluntarily surrendered virtually all his powers as president, which could adversely affect the growth of parliamentary democracy.
The norms which are being introduced would become entrenched and bear results. While we now cherish the fruits of democracy, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the work of the gardener who lovingly toiled the garden which is beginning to yield fruit.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (May 03, 2013) when he was President of Pakistan stressed for urgently devising a plan of action for the protection of journalists from violence and harassment in performing their professional duties.
The Day was organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at Islamabad.
Mr Zardari said the right to information had been for the first time constitutionally guaranteed in Pakistan’s history by incorporating Article 19-A through the Eighteenth Amendment. He said the right to information in all public affairs was subject to law as it was essential for securing democracy, transparency, accountability and good governance.
The former president in his message reiterated the government’s commitment to the freedom of expression and also protection of journalists from violence and harassment. He said the government would take all necessary steps to protect media personnel from harassment and violence in discharging their professional duties.
Mr Zardari had complimented media personnel for braving odds and urged the government to vigorously pursue and investigate the cases of violence against media personnel. “Punish the perpetrators of crimes in accordance with the law” who have committed violence against journalists, he added.
According to him the government has an unswerving commitment towards independence of media and that it would continue undertaking every possible measure for the betterment of the journalist community and protecting them from all sorts of pressures for their work.
He further said that a free, fair and independent media was sine qua non for ensuring sustained and equitable development of society.
He added that the goals of strengthening democracy, ensuring good governance, rule of law, transparency and accountability in the society remain elusive until an independent and responsible media plays its role with objectivity, sincerity and honesty.
Paying tribute to all those who stood and struggled for media freedom in the country, the Mr Zardari said that upholding media freedom was a combined responsibility of all, the government, civil society, media itself and other sections of society.
He said that while it was important to protect and safeguard media freedom from all sorts of threats—overt as well as covert, it was equally important that this freedom was exercised with a sense of responsibility and for the betterment of society, strengthening of democracy and institutions and protecting the norms and ethos of society.
He said there was a need to reflect on the challenges faced by the media today and how to further strengthen mechanisms and promote a culture that facilitates ensuring freedom of expression and flow of information besides guaranteeing media person’s protection from all sorts of obstacles and hindrances.