Punjab govt all set to push through defamation law today

LAHORE   -   The Punjab government is all set to push through the controversial defamation bill in the Punjab Assembly session today despite protests from the Opposition and the representative bodies of the journalists.  The government has placed ‘The Punjab Defamation Bill’ on the agenda for today’s session. The journalistic community has already rejected the proposed bill and the Press Gallery Committee of the Punjab Assembly has announced boycott of the Assembly proceedings. A protest is also scheduled at the Punjab Assembly premises.

All representative bodies of the journalists including APNS, CPNE, Punjab Assembly Press Gallery, PFUJ, and PUJ had a meeting at Lahore Press Club the other day rejected the bill and announced protests starting from Monday.  The opposition in the Punjab Assembly has also opposed the bill, calling for amendments. In the last Assembly sitting, Opposition leader Ahmad Khan Bhachar emphasized the need for consultation with all stakeholders and civil society members before passing the bill. Rana Aftab Khan, an opposition MPA, questioned the urgency of passing the bill and demanded  a thorough deliberation with all stakeholders before bringing it to the house. Already, Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan asked the opposition to submit their recommendations and suggestions regarding the draft bill. He had affirmed the opposition’s right to oppose the bill and invited them to present their reservations by Monday when the bill would be discussed and voted upon in the house.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Information Azma Zahid Bukhari said on Sunday that stated that the government’s sole agenda with the bill was to combat fake news. She announced   plans to meet with representatives from all journalist unions, as directed by Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, before the assembly session

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