ISLAMABAD - Press Freedom Day is an appropriate occasion to initiate a healthy public discourse on media freedoms and making those freedoms rest on the solid and surer foundations of a code that is respected and adhered to by all.
Former President and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari stated this in a message on the Press Freedom Day falling today (Saturday). However, while it is important to have a code of conduct it will be wrong to clamp down on media or a section of it in the name of real or imagined excesses and deviations, he said, adding also “all other considerations howsoever tempting or genuine must be carefully weighed and balanced against the constitutional right to information guaranteed in article 19-A of the constitution”.
Zardari has said that the PPP condemns in the strongest possible terms crimes against media persons and is deeply concerned over the impunity with which these crimes are perpetrated. “On the occasion of Press Freedom Day while we compliment the journalist community for their struggle in freeing the media from different forms of shackles we are also deeply concerned that threats to the safety and security of media persons have increased over the years,” he said.
It is time to establish a credible and effective institutional mechanism for protection of journalists in consultation with all stakeholders including federal and provincial governments, representative bodies of working media persons, media houses and professional media bodies, he said.
The Pakistan Peoples Party believes that freedom of the media is a foundational pillar of democracy, transparency and accountability that must not be allowed to be pulled down on any pretext, Zardari said.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador Richard Olson has said that “a free media is a key ingredient of democracy, and allows for a healthy national discussion on shaping a peaceful future for the country.”
In a message issued on the eve of World Freedom Day, the US Ambassador said that the United States commends journalists around the world for the important role they play in upholding democratic values and for their commitment to the free exchange of ideas.
He said that United States joins the international community in marking World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day is an annual occasion to recognise, honour and underscore the essential role of independent media in fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democratic principles.
The United States values freedom of the press as a key component of democratic governance. Democratic societies are not infallible, but they are accountable, and the exchange of ideas is the foundation for accountable governance. In the United States and in many places around the world, the press fosters active debate, provides investigative reporting, and serves as a forum to express different points of view, particularly on behalf of those who are marginalized in society.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights. The United States remains firmly committed to promoting and protecting press freedom, and to supporting United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) dedication to freedom of expression across the globe.