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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, on Wednesday, said that fake news is spreading in the country on a day-to-day basis, for which, a system to keep a check on that is needed.

Speaking at a function to mark the International Day of Democracy, the minister – in an obvious reference to the controversial proposed, Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill – said that “if the honour of a citizen is at stake or if fake news is leading to disorder in society, there should be a system to monitor it”.

“And this system should not be based on the likes and dislikes of Asad Umar or Fawad Chaudhry, but it should be an independent system,” he added.

He said that the proposed bill will only investigate cases in line with the principles of truth and justice.

Umar also spoke about the concept of self-regulation and said that if all the regulators from the country are dismissed, the media itself will not be happy with the system.

“I hundred per cent agree that the government should sit with all media stakeholders and listen to their concerns, so that a system to promote good journalism could be implemented,” he added.

Speaking about democracy on behalf of his ministry, Umar said that democracy is strengthened when the public starts considering itself to be a part of the democratic system.

“Democracy is facing challenges throughout the world; therefore, if a country wants to strengthen its democratic values, then it will have to make its accountability mechanisms stronger,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar said the government is taking measures to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions in the country.

He said legislation is the focus of the government and the prime responsibility of the parliament.

He said government tabled 145 bills, while 266 bills were moved by the private members in the National Assembly in the last three years, which is a record in the parliamentary history of Pakistan.

He said that Parliament played an active role in facilitating farmers, enhancing trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, introducing braille style of writing to help the blind people.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry urged the media to play its due role in promoting quality democracy in Pakistan. He said that only Prime Minister Imran Khan is striving for making his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a modern democratic party. He said all institutions should perform their duties as per law as no one is above the law.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that democracy in Pakistan has taken roots and gone are the days when it had been derailed in the country.

She said the people of Pakistan have rendered numerous sacrifices for the cause of democracy.She said the government has taken unprecedented steps to protect human rights in Pakistan and legislation to check enforced disappearances in the country is a step forward in this regard.

Other speakers called for strengthening the teething democracy on the country through ensuring merit, rule of law, speedy justice and freedom of media.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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