ISLAMABAD    -    Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday said the government has not yet readied a final draft for legislation regarding creation of special media tribunals.

She acknowledged that “consultations” in this regard had taken place but the government had not made any final draft. The Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting said that media was the fourth pillar of the State and its empowerment was imperative for strong democracy and good governance.

Addressing the oath-taking ceremony of Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA), she said that Prime Minister Imran Khan not only acknowledged the media’s role as a watchdog but was determined to further strengthen this role. Congratulating the PRA office bearers, she said that parliament was the supreme institution where all important issues related to the country were taken up and PRA was the representative body of the media, responsible for reporting the parliamentary proceedings.

No state in the world can become strong without free and independent media as its constructive criticism gives the government guidance to improve the governance and deliver, she added. However, she asked the media to keep national interest in mind while reporting on issues of national interest as negative reporting could discourage the potential investors especially overseas Pakistanis who want to help the country overcome present crisis.

She said that Special Media Tribunals would be constituted after evolving the consensus among all the stakeholders. She said that the issue was discussed in the previous Cabinet meeting regarding publication of some fake news by a section of media and no draft had been prepared so far.

The SAPM said that Pakistan Electronic Media Electronic Media Authority and Press Council of Pakistan would be restructured to meet the requirements of the media industry. She said that in the new legislation interests of the media workers would be protected.

Dr Firdous said that steps were being taken to provide Insaf Health Cards to media persons registered with all press clubs of the country, besides they would get benefit from government housing schemes.

She said that when PTI came to power, Pakistan was facing multiple problems including serious financial and economic crisis but after one year Pakistan has changed for a better future. Industrialisation was being done, hurdles in start of new businesses have been eased and visa regime has been relaxed to boost tourism sector, she added.

She appreciated media role for sensitising the world community over plight of besieged Kashmiris.