Zardari for end to impunity for crimes against journalists

| Senate body discusses The Peoples Representation Bill

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians chief Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that it is time for commitment to end impunity of crimes against journalists on the one hand and to demand urgent legislation on Right to Information on the other.

In a message on the Press Freedom Day falling today (May 3), he said that the PPPP was deeply concerned over the impunity with which crimes against journalists and media persons have been perpetrated.

“The party is also concerned that the govt is dragging its feet on the proposed RTI,” he said.

“On this World Press Freedom Day I call upon all organs of the State and concerned citizens to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists. I also wish to pay tribute to all those journalists who have been performing their duties despite difficult and dangerous conditions. The PPPP reiterates its commitment to the freedom and the safety of the media persons everywhere in general and in Pakistan in particular,” he added.

Zardari also called for establishing a credible and effective institutional mechanism for protection of journalists in consultation with all the stakeholders including Federal and provincial govts, representative bodies of working media persons, media houses and professional media bodies.

“I also call upon the govt to urgently legislate the Right to Information Law adopted two years ago, by the Senate Committee represented by all the political parties,” the PPPP leader said.

Meanwhile yesterday, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs discussed “The Peoples Representation (Amendment) Bill” introduced by PPPP Vice President Sherry Rehman on March 7, 2016.

The Bill was not opposed by any political party in Senate and Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani had referred this Bill to Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs for consideration.

The Standing Committee decided to continue discussion on this Bill in the next meeting.

The statement of objects and reasons said, “There have been numerous reports at every election in recent years whereby women voters have been restrained from voting in the election as a result of an agreement or understanding between different persons which have included politicians, persons representing political parties, so called leaders of clergy and so called leaders of the community.”

“This disallowing of women to vote is a violation of the fundamental rights of women to vote, as well as discrimination under Article 25 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” it added.

It said the lack of gender disaggregated voting data has been demanded by Pakistani society as not only an effective, transparent and clear method of documentation, but also as a tool to identify the gender breakdown of voting structures and to identify and understand the number of women voting, issues they face, how to eliminate them.

“Consistent and regular data allows for effective monitoring of progress or regression. It is necessary that Pakistan ensures that this kind of data exists in Pakistan to be able to provide better insight into the running of the country and to improve democratic structures and procedures. This Bill seeks to make such data available,” the statement said.

This Bill is principally aimed at ensuring that in any election in any constituency if less than 10 per cent female voters have vote, the Election Commission of Pakistan shall declare the election of such a constituency void, and order re-polling within 30 days of the declaration of the decision of the Commission.

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