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New Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb discards PMDA

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after taking oath today as the information minister, she said no “black” law would be enacted or enforced that restricts the people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.

ISLAMABAD: Newly-appointed Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) was being disbanded in “whatever shape or form it was working”.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after taking oath today as the information minister, she said no “black” law would be enacted or enforced that restricts the people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.

“The attempt to bring a black law in the form of the PMDA to restrict the voice of the already under-pressure media … I announce today that the PMDA in whatever shape or form it was working till now is being disbanded.”

At the outset of her presser, Aurangzeb expressed solidarity with journalists, including Matiullah Jan, Hamid Mir and Asad Toor and those whose programmes were taken off-air under the previous government.

“If the freedom of expression remains in the society, it not only makes the society evolve but, in my opinion and in my party’s opinion, it further strengthens the government’s performance and actions.”

A joint action committee comprising all stakeholders, including media organisations, would meet to discuss the media’s problems, she said, adding that a consultative solution would be found that would be acceptable to all and workable.

No regulatory authority would be established other than the already functioning Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), she asserted.

Peca Ordinance

The information minister recalled that the previous government tried to bring a “black law” — Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022 — that was later struck down by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

She shared that the newly appointed Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar had decided to review the Peca law introduced in 2016 in consultation with all stakeholders, including the parts where the right to freedom of expression was “misconstrued” and gaps were present.

“The way the Peca Ordinance was used to file FIRs against journalist Mohsin Baig overnight and the way his ribs were broken [during a raid on his house] … we will try to review it with [all stakeholders].”

In addition, the bill related to journalists’ protection would be made implementable soon, she said.

“Criticise us. We will accept it wholeheartedly if it can improve the lives of Pakistanis and the government’s performa

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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