ISLAMABAD - At a time when five journalists have been killed in Pakistan this year, media persons across the country took to streets and roads on Wednesday against the provincial government of Baluchistan following the registration of FIR against heads of a local news channel, the Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday approved the draft of the "Freedom of Information Law" prepared by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and recommended by the sub-committee headed by Farhatullah Babar.
Although, the FIR was quashed against the journalists and the head of a local channel, however, the incident exposed all those who wanted to control the press once again.
The committee decided that Kamil Ali Agha, Chairman of the Committee, will move the bill in Senate as a multi-party bill.
On the occasion, Kamil said if the bill was passed by the Parliament at the earliest, it would become an example for the provinces to follow. Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed said the government believes in consensus and takes all decisions with consultation of stakeholders.
He cited the example of similar bill adopted by Punjab cabinet before dissolution of the assemblies and added that the same policy was being followed here. He suggested that the government should own the bill and present it in the cabinet for approval before tabling it in the Parliament. However, the committee after thorough consultations came to the conclusion that it should be moved by Kamil Ali Agha on the private members as a multi-party bill.
Later, the government will own the bill and present it in the cabinet for approval. The committee also condemned the registration of FIR against a private channel and decided to summon the Balochistan Information Secretary to record his statement on the unfortunate incident.
The information minister told the committee that he personally talked with the Balochistan CM who said that he was informed by the officers that the case was registered on the orders of the Supreme Court. He opined that telecasting report on Quaid residency was a no crime; rather it was right of the people to know what had happened to the residency and the flag of the country in the terrorist attack. The committee also expressed concern over the telecast of foreign television dramas dubbed in Urdu and decided to seek a reply from Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority in the next meeting.
The meeting was attended by Senators Saeeda Iqbal, Saeed Ghani, Farhatullah Babar, Farha Aqil, Shirala Malik and Rubina Khalid. Secretary Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Nazir Saeed, Additional Secretary Information, Muhammad Azam and other senior officials of the ministry also attended the meeting.