Newly appointed Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announces PMDA’s disbanding

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ISLAMABAD, APR 19: Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced on Tuesday that the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) was being disbanded in “whatever shape or form it was working”.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad shortly after taking oath as the information minister, she said no “black” law would be enacted or worked upon that would restrict the people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.

“The attempt to bring a black law [in the form of the PMDA] to restrict the voice of the already under-pressure media … I announce today that the PMDA in whatever shape or form it was working till now is being disbanded.”

At the outset of her presser, Aurangzeb expressed solidarity with journalists, including Matiullah Jan, Hamid Mir and Asad Toor and those whose programmes were taken off-air under the previous government.

“If the freedom of expression remains in the society, it not only makes the society evolve but, in my opinion and in my party’s opinion, it further strengthens the government’s performance and actions.”

A joint action committee comprising all stakeholders, including media organisations, would meet to discuss the media’s problems, she said, adding that a consultative solution would be found that would be workable and acceptable to all.

No regulatory authority would be established other than the already functioning Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), she asserted.

The PTI government had proposed the formation of the PMDA last year, which if set up, would have been solely responsible for the regulation of print, broadcast and digital media in Pakistan.

The proposal had been heavily criticised by journalists, activists and the then-opposition.