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Ordinance or Martial Law: New ordinance in media sector faces strong resistance

Legal Correspondent: Utkarsh Karpe


June 01, 2021: The Pakistan Media Development Authority's 2021 ordinance proposed by the Imran Khan government aims to repeal all existing laws and amalgamate them into one body. The unions of journalists and Pakistan Human Rights bodies oppose this decision and calling it drastic. This ordinance proposes bureaucrat of level Grade- 22 as head of PMDA.

Opposition parties also opposed this ordinance and said that this authority became state mouthpiece and suppress the constitutional freedom of expression of print and electronic media as well as online citizen journalism.

Pakistan has several media-related laws like the Newspaper Employees, (Conditions of Service Act), 1973; the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 (amended in 2007); and the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979, which proposed to repeal and meagre them into single PMDA. There is a section in the order to establish media tribunals for punishing up to three years in prison and PKR 25 million fines for breaching the provisions.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), which advised satellite television channels not to report on government meetings under progress, the editors said that it was turning into a censorship tool instead of the regulator. The October 2020 EU Chronicle stated that journalists and media are a priority target for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistani army. In addition, said that such activities were raised from July 2018 when Imran Khan became Prime Minister. According to the Annual Pakistan media legal review 2020 report, a large number of actions taken against the social media activist and journalists under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.


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