Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Thursday assured that all stakeholders will be taken on board before finalizing the final draft for legislation relating to media tribunals. While addressing the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA), Dr Awan said that the government has not yet arrived at a final draft for legislation on creation of media tribunals.
She said that cabinet members had earlier expressed reservations and told Prime Minister Imran Khan that they were being 'mistreated' by the media and inquired about what can be done to compel the media to 'act responsibly.' She acknowledged that consultations on the matter had taken place but the government had not made any final draft for a regulatory mechanism.
"The government wants that that a mechanism be formed that is independent of the government and upholds the principles laid out in the Constitution. But [we want to do this while] sitting with the media, in partnership with them; to determine some process about which direction we want to take this country in."
Briefing media persons on Tuesday last, Dr Awan had said that media tribunals would be formed through the passage of a bill by the Parliament. She had conceded that the government had not taken all stakeholders including media persons, owners of media houses and media bodies into confidence on this move.
Dr Awan Thursday clarified that no decision will be taken without consulting stakeholders. "There will be various proposals and drafts that will be presented to you," she said, addressing the media. "You are the stakeholders. It can never happen that we impose this on you without discussing it with the stakeholders."
The final draft will be presented before the media after the prime minister returns from his engagements abroad, Dr Awan said.
She noted that some individuals in the media had already started speculating that the tribunal has been formed and the draft is about to be announced. She clarified that the government has "two or three [policy] options" and that all stakeholders would be consulted on the matter. "Things that are forcefully imposed cannot be sustained," Dr Awan said.
During her address, she also urged the media to act responsibly when it comes to matters of national interest. She further assured that media persons will get the Insaf Health Cards for the free and effective checkup, beside a proportion of quota will be given in the government housing schemes.