The World Press Freedom Day was observed in Pakistan on Friday which reminded people of many journalists who embraced martyrdom or faced jails for keeping aloft the banner of freedom.

The World Press Freedom Day is annually observed on May 3 reminding that freedom of press and expression are fundamental human rights.  At least 42 percent of the world population does not have the right of freedom of expression. Journalists in Pakistan also still face threats from not only non-state elements.

Several journalists had to lose their lives while performing their professional duties in quest of truth. About 12 journalists were assassinated during the year 2011. At least five Pakistani journalist killed among 27 others journalists across the world. The killers of journalists could not be tracked down as yet. The families of victim journalists have been awaiting justice and suffering after their brutal killing.

The United Nations in Pakistan Friday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD).

Freedom of expression, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is essential for empowering individuals and building free and democratic societies.  A fundamental right on its own, freedom of expression also provides the conditions for protecting and promoting all other human rights.

Within the overall context of press freedom, WPFD 2013 focus on the theme of “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight in particular on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for safety online.

Unesco Director Kozue Kay Nagata in her opening remarks, at a seminar held by the United Nations here today appreciated the professionalism of the journalists in Pakistan, who are working in extremely challenging situations.

She said: “We support this Day to emphasize the importance of freedom of expression and free flow of diversified opinions because Media - old and new, print or broadcasting, text-based or visual - have an increasingly important power to boost dynamic and positive change, positive social transformation in the country.”

Timo Pakkala, UN Resident Coordinator said “the UN system is strongly committed to coordinating action, raising awareness and supporting Pakistan in upholding international principles and developing legislation for freedom of expression and information.”

“We work closely with all member states of the United Nations and their citizens to strengthen safeguards for freedom of expression and press freedom.” he added.

The Additional Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Muhammad Azam in his key note address at the preliminary session of the event said the government is committed to promote and protect press freedom in the country”.

He ensured that the international standards for safety of journalists and combating impunity are respected and adopted in the country context.  In the second round of the event renowned panelists; Hamid Mir, Mohammad Ziauddin Murtaza Solangi from media and Muhammad Azam , Additional Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting  took part in a panel discussion on the theme of the Day. Nagata, Representative of Unesco in her thanking and concluding note appreciated the Pakistani media for its decades’ long struggle for the press freedom and playing an active and powerful role in promoting and strengthening the fundamental human right of press freedom in the country.

The United Nation General Assembly declared May 3 as the World Press Freedom Day in 1991 to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right of freedom of expression. On this day over the past 19 years, the world’s members of the media had reaffirmed the basic principles of freedom of press, expressed their determination in defending the freedom of press, and even paid the highest respect and remembrance to those who have lost their lives.

Sethi message

Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi has said that journalism is, undoubtedly, an important pillar of the state. The world today has become a global village and the media has played a significant role in this regard.

In his message on the occasion of International Press Freedom Day, Sethi said: “It is heartening that the print and electronic media in Pakistan are also forging ahead in their struggle for freedom of press. Reporting and its dissemination involves a great deal of honesty and impartiality, therefore, journalists must play role in an independent, responsible and impartial manner.”