LAHORE - Appreciating the role of media in strengthening democracy and highlighting the social issues, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said media can also play role to bring the country out of current crisis.

Addressing the inaugural session of the International Journalism Conference jointly held by the Punjab government and Foundation for Promotion of Academic Collaboration at a local hotel Thursday, the CM said media had supported martial law, but now it had become a powerful voice against dictatorship.

“Media is a supporting timely elections in the country which is encouraging sign. Balanced reporting is essential for media, and when media criticises the government for its mistakes, it should also appreciate the services of politicians, institutions, philanthropists and officers at the time of natural calamities,” the CM added.

Shahbaz said Pakistan was burning under the fire of terrorism wherein innocent people were losing their lives. Unity, tolerance, forbearance and brotherhood are inevitable to rid the country of the scourge of terrorism.

Mentioning about the acts of terrorism in Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and other areas, the chief minister said it was an irony that both the killers and the killed were Muslims. He said Pakistan was forcibly pushed into this so-called Islamic war 30 years ago.

Then it was our mistake and we must learn a lesson from our past. Shahbaz said those Jehadis who fought against communism were being labeled as terrorists. He said these Jehadis used to work for Europe and North America, but now they were being condemned. He said we would have to move forward by learning from our mistakes.  The chief minister said we would have to change the attitude of intolerance in the society as it resulted into extremism which had shaken foundations of the country and brought it on the verge of destruction.

Shahbaz said the country was created after great sacrifices under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam, but it is now, surrounded by problems galore due to corruption, looting of the national resources by the federal rulers.

He said every party had the right to present its manifesto and formula but everyone had to unite for eradication of corruption and solution to other problems.

Shahbaz also hoped that this conference would go a long way in promotion of journalism, besides learning from each others’ experiences. He said Pakistani media was highly active and dynamic, while democratic dispensation had been strengthened due to seminars, TV talk shows and newspaper articles.

Speaking on the occasion, conference president Prof Amir Rafique said media’s role was significant to ensure success of any country, including strengthening democratic system and establishment of an independent judiciary.  German journalist Mrs Ingrid Mueller said, by holding International Journalism Conference, an opportunity has been made available to the journalists for dialogue and sharing of each others’ experiences.  Najam Wali said the journalists were the eyes of the society, who should highlight the issues being faced by the society.

Sohail Warraich said media had given awareness to the people, which was a great success. Dr Mugheesud Din Sheikh gave a suggestion of establishment of a Media University in Pakistan.