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LAHORE: Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Sirajul Haq has reiterated concerns over the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (amendment) Act, terming it an attack on freedom of expression.

The government made an attempt to stifle civil liberties in the country, he said while talking to delegation of media Joint Action Committee (JAC) which called on him at Mansoorah.

He asked the government to reverse the draconian amendments and avoid putting curb on the media freedom.

The delegation comprising members of the All-Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), and the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) briefed the JI chief about the ordinance, saying the laws allowed the government to tamper with freedom of speech, muzzle the journalists’ right to report, and financially cripple the media to influence journalism.

“The JI condemns the law. We stand with you [media],” he said, expressing regret over the rulers’ attempts over years to control media.

He said the PECA ordinance was introduced on holiday, bypassing the senate and national assembly. “A democratic process of lawmaking requires open and transparent consultation with stakeholders but the PTI has been ignoring the need since the day it came into power in 2018.”

The process, he said, through which the recent amendments were introduced was itself questionable. He said PECA allowed rulers to move courts against citizens who they believe to be posting fake news. The definition of fake news, he said, was not available in the law and it also failed to elaborate how to pinpoint the content as false. The offence, he said, was non-bailable, and the accused will have to spend time in prison until the trial ends within six months.

Pakistan, he said, was turned unsafe for media persons, adding the journalists were being killed and harassed and victimized. He highlighted the need of unity among journalist community.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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