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JI rejects PECA ordinance: Siraj

Our Correspondent
Wednesday, Mar 02, 2022

LAHORE: The Jamaat-e-Islami has extended all-out support to media workers in their struggle against the PTI government’s controversial PECA Ordinance strangulating freedom of expression and warranting long sentences and heavy fines for criticizing the ruling elite.

The assurance to stand by the media freedom was given by JI Ameer Siraj-ul-Haq while talking to the Joint Action Committee of Media Pakistan, which called on him at Mansoorah on Tuesday. Siraj said the JI will not accept gagging of media freedom at any cost and fully support media workers’ struggle against all laws restricting the freedom of media, especially the recent black law of PECA which was enacted by a presidential ordinance last Sunday. He said the PTI government's fascist tactics of silencing the media are highly condemnable. The delegation of Joint Action Committee comprised office-bearers of Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND), CPNE, PBA, APNS and PFUJ. They included Mian Amir Mehmood, Dr Chaudhry Abdul Rehman, Naz Aafreen Sehgal, Shahab Zubairi, Azhar Abbas, Kazim Khan, Ejazul Haq, Shakeel Masood, Ayaz Khan, Irshad Ahmed Arif, Sarmad Ali, Mian Tahir, Muhammad Usman. JI Secretary General Ameerul Azeem, Secretary Information Qaiser Sharif, Deputy General Secretary Muhammad Asghar were also present.

Siraj lamented that through PECA Ordinance, any person sharing fake news on digital media can be imprisoned for five years and fined Rs 1 million, and the crime is non-bailable. He said the most important issue is that the law neither defined fake news nor the person who will determine which news is fake. He said the hasty promulgation of the PECA Ordinance without definition and interpretation of fake news is beyond comprehension. He said thousands of journalists became unemployed after the PTI came into power and Pakistan is the ninth country in the world with respect to the maximum number of journalists killed and harassed. In the last two decades, about 150 journalists went missing and were killed in the country.

Siraj said that due to restrictions on journalism, many important institutions have been closed down in the last three years. He stressed the need to promote unity among journalistic organizations, saying that the disunity is strengthening the government. He said the media in Pakistan has been kept under suppression for the last 74 years.

He said: “We want the journalists organizations to introduce their own code of conduct. We are not in favour of government regulations for electronic, print and digital media. The real conspiracy of the government against the media has to be exposed to the public so that the facts can be brought to the notice of the nation.”

The delegation apprised Siraj of the media's concerns regarding PECA and informed that media organizations are united against this law, and will continue to fight for media freedom. They thanked Siraj for supporting the media.