Karachi Editors Club with a vision and commitment

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Newly formed Karachi Editors Club with just one years of age celebrated its first birthday on May 3rd 2018 i.e. “Press Freedom Day” on the subject of “Azzadie Sahafat aur iskey Taqazai”

In Pakistan where pattern of assault on journalists and media are expanding it is highly necessary to create and monitor a database of reporters, editors, correspondents, social media influencers and bloggers. Karachi Editors Club formed by senior Editors level Journalists who is trying to reach upon this agenda for the betterment of journalism with positivity and siding with 200 million people of Pakistan since most of them are fighting against miseries and injustices in every field of life.

Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah very boldly admitted that governments may have done something wrong but they have done some right things as well so media must account for both sides. He also said that for going forward we should strengthen institutions and not persons; hence media should always work for the strengthening of institutions. This is how we can have better Pakistan for us and for our generations.

Japanese Consul General speaking in Urdu compared the Japanese media with Pakistani media. He said that before end of Second World War Japanese media was under siege but it is now almost free. Hence transformation always comes with the wake of time.

Senator Haseeb stressed for to bring realities among forefront that 60 % of our population is without bread, heath facilities and education.

It was desired by all speakers that our government should not only seek to track stories, content and editorial perspectives, but also plan to gather specific contact, employer and beat information for each of these individuals.

As everyone commemorate World Press Freedom Day – proclaimed as May 3 by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 – it is an appropriate time to restate the value of a free press, which, according to the United Nations secretary-general, is “essential for peace, justice and human rights for all.”

A free press provides a critical independent check on government power, demands accountability and helps sustain transparent and democratic societies.

On 3rd May every one celebrate the foundational principles of a free press, encourage support of the media and honor those journalists who have lost their lives in the pursuit of truth. But sadly, we too often take for granted the basic freedoms given to us by the First Amendment of the UN General Assembly made in its basic principles.

In Pakistan and in many countries, the press provides a forum for active debate investigates corruption and gives voice to the disenfranchised. In contrast, in dozens of other countries, publications and media outlets are censored or banned, and journalists are threatened, imprisoned and even killed.

Because of our integrated global society with vast and instantaneous communication tools, we in Pakistan also have an obligation to identify and condemn violations of press freedom wherever they occur.

It is the duty of all governments and citizens with media persons and organizations like Karachi Editors Club to speak out in defense of the press and its vital role. By continuing to tell stories that need to be told, a free media ensures transparency and accountability.

While for all of us that Free Press Day is a renewed call on governments to commit to a free and independent press. It is also a day for reflection among media professionals, Journalists and institutions they cover must be governed by the truth.

All of us – governments and the media – are accountable and should be held to the highest standards of integrity and responsibility. Nothing less than this can save our democracy and virtually it depends on free press.

Media in Pakistan provides information on television, radio, cinema, newspapers, and magazines . Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape; among the most dynamic in South Asia. To a large extent the media enjoys freedom of expression in spite of political pressure and direct bans sometimes administered by political stake holders.

Political pressure on media is mostly done indirectly. One tool widely used by the government is to cut off ‘unfriendly’ media from governmental advertising. Using draconian laws the government has also banned or officially silenced popular television channels. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has been used to silence the broadcast media by either suspending licenses or by simply threatening to do so. In addition, media is also exposed to propaganda from state agencies, pressured by powerful political elements and non-state actors involved in the current conflict.

Media freedom in Pakistan is complicated; journalists are free to report on most things. The security situation for journalists in general has deteriorated in decade. At least 61 journalists have been killed since 2010 with at least 14 journalists killed in 2014 alone. A climate of fear impedes coverage of both state security forces and the militant groups. Threats and intimidation against journalists and media workers by state and non-state actors is widespread.

At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs in 2017, while violence and harassment against media staff has skyrocketed, said the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). In its annual “Kill Report”, the IFJ said the reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bomb attacks and crossfire incidents around the world. More than 250 journalists were in prison in 2017.

To many observers and media consumers today, the press would appear to be unbridled. Today, the media – electronic, in particular – appears almost reckless in demonstrating its freedom, practically unchecked in spite of several attempts at self-regulation and occasional raps on the knuckles by Pemra, the regulatory authority.

Journalists in Pakistan, accustomed to battling those in power for freedom of the press, were not ready for the new threats soon to come their way. New centers of armed street power began to threaten the press in ways not witnessed earlier. While the newly emerged Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) practically kept the Karachi press under siege with its strong-arm methods, it was not the first bully on the block. It was the Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba (IJT) also the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami that introduced violence in dealing with the press.

The rise of militancy and terrorism brought yet another threat to journalists in Pakistan. It has made the country one of the most dangerous for journalists. Today they are sitting ducks for Islamic militants as well as any interest group that sees the free press as an adversary.

The latest victims are social media bloggers. While it was believed that the social media will give everyone unfettered freedom of expression, it was not to be. The Prevention of Cyber Crimes Act curtailed that freedom through vague and wide-ranging definitions. And, at the same time, the enforced disappearance of several bloggers and the registration of blasphemy cases against some have resulted in a new age of self-censorship.

The media, particularly the electronic media with all its potential, has not covered itself in glory either. It is largely responsible for the spread of rigidity in society and intolerance of the minorities and of voices questioning the state’s role in matters of faith. It has also remained primarily urban and patriarchal. Shrill coverage of politics continues to be its focus while the disadvantaged are rarely paid attention to.

Seventy years is a fairly long time for state institutions – including the judiciary and the armed forces – to accept the media’s intrinsic adversarial role. Having said that, it is also a long time for the media to demonstrate greater responsibility in reporting.
Alveena Agha conducted all the Seminar with confidence.

Editors Club Seminar ended with the commitment that:-
1. It would prepare code of conduct from the side of Journalists and would present it in some seminar soon.
2. It would always encourage research based analysis on issues like economy, politics and matters pertaining to social life
3. It would always come forward for the Journalists in case of their dire needs and protection.
4. It would always encourage reporting done objectively without taking any body’s side based on reality favoring environment for the unity of the country.

Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), former Head of FSCD SBP, former Head of Research Arif Habib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan.