Condemnation of Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority
Amidst pressure from the local media and civil society, the government has abandoned the idea of enacting the Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority (PPMRA) Ordinance 2017, ordering strict action against three officers for unilaterally moving ahead with the proposal.
The repressive provisions of the drafted law sought to regulate the print media by making it mandatory for newspapers to seek annual renewal of their licences and give power to authorities to raid media houses at will.
The draft was on the agenda of the Press Council of Pakistan, which was scheduled to meet on the 11th of September. However, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting intervened in the matter, requesting the Chair of Press Council of Pakistan to drop the matter from the agenda of the Council’s general meeting.
The Press Council of Pakistan at its general meeting unanimously resolved to disapprove the proposed PPMRA Ordinance 2017, embracing the government’s decision to withdraw the proposed draft.
The draft has continued to be lambasted by the Opposition and human rights groups. In a public statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed strong reservations over the proposed draft and considered it “apparently aimed at gagging the print media”, vowing to “vigorously resist any such attempt”.
“The draft… has shocked civil society and advocates of freedom of expression not just because of its contents but also the manner in which it made its appearance and by a complete lack of engaging with the stakeholders,” the Commission deplored.
The Pakistan Peoples Party stressed for an inquiry into how the draft was “secretly drafted in the darkness of the night, behind the back of parliament and stakeholders to stifle newspapers through unprecedented coercive measures”.
While speaking on point of public importance in the Senate, the proposed PPMRA Ordinance has been referred to as a throwback to the notorious Press and Publications Ordinance 1963 of the Ayub Khan era.