ISLAMABAD -  Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage while co-chairing a boardroom discussion titled “Information and Entertainment Systems Stewards Meeting” at Devos on Thursday said that as Pakistan was at the cusp of history to complete uninterrupted democracy for a decade for the first time, the media which enjoyed freedom of expression and access to information, had a role in removing the ambience of mistrust in the country and transform it into an abiding hope and confidence and reinforcing democracy.

She said that democracy was well on its way to entrench itself and there was a permeating view in the country that the existing fault lines in the Pakistani politics would be gradually eliminated with the support of an independent media.

The Minister said that ensuring freedom of expression and allowing free flow of information was one of the top priorities of the ruling party PML-N and since assuming power in 2013 it has made strenuous efforts in this regard.

She said that Pakistan was currently in the process of implementation of CPEC and the role of information in safeguarding the news about it and ensuring regional prosperity could not be overemphasised.

She said: "Pakistan has joined the club of countries who have formally done legislation on free flow of information by adopting Access to Information Bill in the recent past that was the result of a prolonged consultation process with the media representative bodies and other stakeholders."

She said that as far as the freedom of expression and free flow of information was concerned Pakistan was faithfully adhering to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Fundamental Principles adopted by UNESCO on November 28, 1978 for the promotion of fundamental human rights including the Freedom of Expression designed to establish a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) besides other international conventions.

With a view to creating an enabling and secure working environment for the journalists, she said, that the government was also in the process of promulgating a law for the security and welfare of the journalists by seeking input from the journalists community.

While striving to create a congenial atmosphere for the media to play its desired role, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Pakistan was also fighting a perception war regarding its image at the global level tarnished by the phenomenon of terrorism in our region and to some extent biased and out of context reporting by the international media glossing over the successes that Pakistan has achieved in the war against terrorism and the sacrifices rendered to accomplish the objective.

She said that apart from media offensive to portray the true image of the country, efforts are also underway for the revival of culture, national heritage and film industry which are considered essential ingredients for projecting the real and soft image of the country and changing the existing perceptions.

We are also promoting screen tourism with a view to fight perceptions and unfurling realities, she said.

A film policy for the revival of the film industry will soon be announced by the government, she said, adding, that the first ever cultural policy is also in the offing.

She added that Pakistan is trying to rediscover its original narrative through sports and revival of entertainment Industry.

She said that Pakistan was according top priority to the education and training of youth as they constitute majority population of the country.

The Minister said that since 2002, there has been an exponential and qualitative change in the media landscape of the country when the monopoly of the government on the electronic media was culminated and private sector was allowed to set up TV and Radio channels besides allowing cross-media ownership.

The development of the digital technology has broadened the scope of communication outlets and revolutionized the media industry, she noted.

The Minister said that Pakistan has a very vibrant social media used by all segments of the society to put their messages across and even the political leadership is increasingly relying on tweets for dissemination of their political messages.

The government has also created a social media wing for technology based monitoring of electronic and print media, analysis, communication, advertisement and providing authentic news concerning implementation of government policies and achievements, for the information and awareness of the masses, Marriyum Aurangzeb said.

The foregoing developments, she said, have thrown up new challenges for the media industry itself to maintain balance and adhere to the internationally recognised parameters as well as the government in regards to media management to ensure that it served the national interests in the best possible manner. That surely necessitated pre-career and mid-career training for the journalists to keep them abreast with the emerging media trends and demands and the ethical aspects of the profession, she stated.

She said that unfortunately Pakistan does not have training institutes for the media like the ones established under the auspices of the UN, UNESCO and private sector in the developed countries.

The Ministry of Information, the Minister said was currently engaged in creating training facilities for the journalists in the Information Service Academy which is an official training academy for the government information officers.

A training module in collaboration with international training institutes is being developed for the purpose, she said.

In addition to this the government is also encouraging the private media houses to create training facilities of their own, she stated.

The government is also continuously engaged with the media representative bodies to encourage it to move towards self-regulatory mechanism by the media like in many developed and European countries, the Minister stated.

The meeting was held to take stock of multistakeholder cooperation on key issues and explore how collectively cooperation could be strengthened.