Govt has no intention to curb media freedom: PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the government has no intention to put any restrictions on the freedom of media and expression.

The premier made these remarks while speaking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) in Lahore on Sunday.

Speaking about challenges to press freedom in the country, he assured that journalists would be provided with the best possible protection against unwarranted actions under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) ordinance and other related laws.

He said that the ministry of law had already been tasked to review the said ordinance.

PM Shehbaz added that clauses in the ordinance contrary to freedom of the press will be abolished, and that strict action will be taken against the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officer filing an appeal without the government's approval.

Also read: PML-N govt firmly believes in press freedom: Marriyum

Praising the CPNE role for the freedom of media, strengthening of democracy, and evolution of democratic institutions in the country, the prime minister said that the government is keen to engage constructively with the CPNE and other media representative bodies for the protection of the rights of journalists and promotion of responsible journalism in the country.

During the meeting, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Secretary Information Shahera Shahid, Principal Information Officer Mobashir Hasan and other officials were present.

The CPNE delegation included president Kazim Khan, senior Vice-President Ayaz Khan, Vice-President Punjab Irshad Ahmad Arif, secretary-general Aamir Mahmood and other members.

Economic challenges

The prime minister said that the government is taking all possible measures to ensure power generation and its supply so that public woes could be addressed.

He added that the country was facing the worst financial deficit and that he stood firm on his earlier remarks of "beggars can't be choosers".

The previous government had doubled the country’s debt during the last four years of the rule which had made the lives of the poor miserable, he said, adding that the incumbent government is making all possible efforts to provide basic necessities of life including flour, health treatment and medicines at subsidised rates.

He also regretted that during the previous government’s rule, special arrangements were not made at PKIL like facilities for giving free-of-charge treatment to the poor and deserving patients.

The prime minister stressed the solidarity of the nation to resolve the current economic challenges for the welfare of the people, saying holding a long march – announced by deposed PM Imran Khan – in this situation amounted to uncalled for and creation of fissures among the nation.

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