ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday gave his assent to the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill to safeguard the rights of working journalists.
The president signed the legislation at a ceremony attended by cabinet ministers and a large number of journalists and media professionals. The bill focused on protecting lives of journalists, saving them from harassment and torture and ensuring their welfare by giving facilities of life and health insurance.
The president said he was very happy to sign the historic bill. He said for the last 60-70 years, the journalists raised issues and after which mafias of all kinds killed, harassed and tortured them.
The president underlined the need for a culture of tolerance for journalists because they were only doing reporting and disseminating information. As people did not want that their mistakes should be exposed they put pressure on the journalists, he noted.
The president said he came to know that a consensus was built among the stakeholders on the bill. Everybody was unanimous in protecting the rights of journalists, he stressed. The president said debate on disclosure of information would continue in the society in future as well. He said the Act also gave journalists independence, adding the law also protected journalists against intolerant behaviour, violence and harassment.
Under the Act, welfare of the journalists would be ensured and an independent media commission would be formed. The act would also take care of the protection of rights of the genders. He said fake news was an issue and Holy Quran also warned against fake news as it could create chaos and wars between the nations. After signature of the president, the bill had become an Act of the Parliament.
Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain in his remarks said the government would support the working journalists and would strive to protect their rights. Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari in her remarks said the new law was progressive in nature and gave insurance of life and health to the journalists and media professionals. Meanwhile, the President of Pakistan has signed following 31 bills passed by the Parliament.