Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that the government wants to regulate social media in the country and is in touch with international companies like Google and Facebook for the purpose. The minister said this while addressing a one-day conference on National Security, Nation Building and Mass Media here on Thursday.
"We will be regulating social media, which will not be possible locally, and that is why we are in touch with international giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google," he remarked.
Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies - an Islamabad-based think tank - organised the conference where media practitioners, journalists and other dignitaries participated and shared their views.
The information minister said that it is yet to be seen as to "how much we can cope with international regulations and over time the international regulations will govern the rules of national regulations."
Chaudhry said that Pakistan is the most modern country in the world in terms of media development, but only those media outlets will survive that will produce quality contents to stay ahead in the game of competition.
He said there are three different regulatory bodies regulating the media in Pakistan. "We are trying to merge them and make one authority which will coordinate with international bodies. In future, domestic regulation will be irrelevant and international regulation will be relevant."
The minister also urged the private media owners to develop successful business models for profitability rather than relying on government advertisements to run their businesses. "The biggest peril to media is the business model of media organisations itself," he said, adding that relying on the government to run the media businesses is not a feasible idea.
He said that it is not government's job to support media businesses. He said due to gradual increase in speed of internet, the shape of media would be quite different in the next decade.
The mass communication departments of the universities will also have to update their curricula to meet the future challenges, he said, adding that current curriculum of mass communication is not updated and it should be made dynamic to reflect the changing media landscape in the world.
Earlier, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi also addressed the conference, urging the media to play its due role when it comes to national security. He said, "His government would formulate policies on the basis of our own traditions and culture as nobody else would be allowed to impose agenda on Pakistan."
The minister said that news regarding Aasia Bibi gets its due attention in the media but the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and the government's efforts to repatriate her get largely overlooked.
He pointed out shortcomings on part of the media, and claimed that the positive aspects of the country do not always get highlighted.
The state minister asked the nation to give more time to the federal government, instead of asking for accountability over the first 100 days in power. "We are being asked for results. Let me assure you we will answer for each and every penny (we spend)," he added. Afridi said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government should be given time to show performance. "We will set examples for the next generations. For God's sake, don't jump to conclusions."
The PTI leader also discussed the recent protests that erupted in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision to acquit Aasia Bibi of blasphemy charges. "Prime Minister Imran Khan took an initiative to make the world realise that the pretext of freedom of expression should not be used for the defamation of any religion." Afridi also touched upon civil-military relations, saying close coordination between the two is the need of the hour.
Talking about Indian influence in Afghanistan, he said that India has strengthened its influence on Afghanistan. "India has tightened its grip on Afghanistan. New Delhi has so much influence there that I was made to wait for two hours on the border to receive SP Tahir Dawar's body." A number of other senior journalists and media practitioners also talked about freedom of expression, press freedom and role of media in the national security.