November 3 was the darkest day in the history of Pakistan with regard to the freedom of media, universally acknowledged as the fourth pillar of the state. The dictatorial regime which cried hoarse from every convenient roof to boast about the so-called unprecedented freedom of media in Pakistan and opening the field to the private radio and TV channels, could not bear the sight of millions of Pakistanis thronging the national highways to greet the suspended chief justice and almost all TV channels acting as true mirrors of the public sentiments on events leading up to the D-Day. The ire fell on the judiciary and the media as reflected through the unconstitutional course adopted by the government in the shape of promulgation of PCO, removal of the judges and accompanying curbs on the electronic media. The hallmark of all the dictatorial regimes is that they have an irresistible propensity to relapse into authoritarian mould in view of the slightest dissent by any individual or an organisation. While doing so the sole aim is to safeguard the well-entrenched vested interest of the regime itself in complete disregard to the ground realities and the larger public interest. It was thought fit to arm PEMRA with the powers to revoke licenses of the TV channels or seize their equipment in case of any violation of the rules in place and also hold both the owner and the operator responsible for any offence. The fine for violating laws was increased from rupees one million to rupees ten million. A number of channels were taken off the air. The media representatives also faced the spectacle of incarceration in case of failing to fall in line. The rules were also used to browbeat owners into agreeing to close down certain programmes, sack their presenters or anchorpersons. The architect of these measures failed to realise that the public has had enough of it and was not prepared to put up with any further attempts to subjugate the institutions of the state and usurpation of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the constitution. The move also received worldwide disapproval. The civil society reacted angrily. The intellectuals, media and all other segments of the society were unanimous in their condemnation of the enforced law. The elections provided a ranting proof of the public hostility to these draconian steps when the people out rightly rejected the ruling party and voted heavily for PPP, PML (N) and its coalition partners who promised restoration of the deposed 'Judges' and doing away with the curbs on media. It was indeed a rare show of solidarity for a common national cause. It is, therefore, gratifying to note that the prime minister in his maiden address to the elected Assembly after his election listed freedom of media as one of the top priorities of the coalition government and followed it up with reaffirmation of his commitment in his speech in the parliament after securing unanimous vote of confidence from the house. The government of Prime Minister Gillani ensured that no time was wasted in this regard. Within days of the announcement by the prime minister, a bill has been moved in the National Assembly to lift restraints on the electronic media thus redeeming the pledge it had made with media and the civil society. The piece of legislation introduced in the Assembly which will soon be passed not only reflects the responsiveness of the government to the public sentiments and demands but also its belief and commitment that being the fourth pillar of the state, a free media was an integral part of any democratic polity and no society could march on the road to progress without it. The government has already allowed live coverage of the proceedings of the Assembly and steps are afoot to ensure unfettered media access to the deliberations of the house committees to ensure transparency and accountability. The prime minister in a recent meeting with the members of APNS has been frank enough to tell his audience that all measures contemplated to be put in place to ensure freedom and role of the media, will be firmed up in consultation with all the stakeholders including the media representatives. Enough to show unflinching commitment of the government to accomplish the task and its democratic credentials. This indeed augurs well for the future of the country. As they say nations and media rise and fall together. In the task of national building media and government have complimentary roles. The basic role of the media in any society is to inform, entertain and educate the masses on the social, political and national issues and help them in developing opinions and responses to the steps initiated by the government to advance and serve the national causes. The government is supposed to provide an enabling environment to the media to play its due role. The coalition government by unshackling the electronic media and promising similar actions with regard to the print media has made a substantial move to build a proper operating environment for the media, for which it deserves accolades and appreciation of all concerned. The government has stood true to its pledge; it is now the media's turn to play its complimentary role. While in a democratic environment no body can grudge freedom of media, what however needs to be understood is that every right has a corresponding duty. It is incumbent upon the media, particularly electronic media that in their zeal and enthusiasm to unravel and cover the unfolding events and happenings, not to indulge in overplaying any incident and try to portray it in its true perspective. In the present circumstances and the challenges confronting the country and the incumbent government, the media needs to show some self-restraint. All the civilised and democratic societies invariably have an arrangement for the accountability of the media such as Press Councils and other similar bodies. The code of ethics can be drawn up by the media representatives in consultation with the government to ensure responsibility without jeopardising freedom and peoples' right to know. The best way to protect and consolidate the freedom is self-restraint and self-accountability. It is earnest hope of every patriotic Pakistani that media will make most of its new found freedom and play a leading role not only in providing a critical view of the government policies but also help in promoting objective and honest understanding of the challenges confronting the government to enable the people to see them in their proper context.