The Information Ministry has made two senior officials of its Internal Publicity Wing officers on special duty (OSD) and suspended another for bringing a bad name to the department.

The development came a day after national media reported that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government had prepared a draft law to control print media and impose more restrictions on the freedom of the press.

Taking action on the issue, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Internal Heritage in an order on Monday clarified that neither the secretary nor the minister of state for information was aware of “any such proposal”.

“The undersigned spoke with the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) chairman Dr Salahud Din Mengal, who stated that the subject case is an agenda item for a meeting of the PCP to be held today. He has been advised to drop this agenda item forthwith,” read the order issued by the secretary information.

The situation caused embarrassment to the ministry by creating an impression that the ministry was trying to tighten in any way the existing regulatory framework for the print media, the order continued. “This is absolutely contradictory to the actual commitment of the present government, which is totally committed to upholding the freedoms laid down in the Constitution.”

The ministry through its order appointed DG, External Publicity Wing as Inquiry Officer to conduct a fact-finding probe into the matter and submit a report in three days. “Nasir Jamal and Tahir Hasan, [DG and director IP respectively] are hereby made OSD with immediate effect and till further orders… Assistant Director Saad Ullah Mahar is suspended with immediate effect and till further orders,” the order said, adding the incident was of a serious nature. It however explained that further action would be initiated after receipt of the fact-finding report.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has reiterated the resolve of his government to protect and ensure the ‘Freedom of Press’ as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, and categorically assured the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) that the government is not contemplating any change in the present legal structure of Print Media. He assured that any law or amendment if needed, will be undertaken in consultation with the APNS, CPNE, PFUJ and other stakeholders.

APNS Secretary General Umer Mujib Shami called on the PM, wherein the prime minister was apprised of the profound concern of APNS on the proposed draft ‘Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority (PPMRA) Ordinance’. –Courtesy The Express Tribune

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