Political parties, student unions, and members of civil society in Pakistan continued to express solidarity with protesting journalists outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Monday, joining them in raising their voice against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill.
Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, and MNA Mohsin Dawar, among others, visited the site on Sunday night to express solidarity with the journalists, Dawn reported.
Several politicians, including Senator Sherry Rehman and Raza Rabbani of the PPP, visited the protest camp on Monday and addressed the protesters.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressed the protest, saying that journalists in the country had bravely fought against and defeated former President Pervez Musharraf in the past, and they would also put up a fight against the incumbent government and its decisions challenging media freedom, the report said.
“I believe as far as the legitimacy of the government and media freedom are concerned, all (of us) are on the same page,” he added.
The PPP chairperson said that he saw the PMDA as a continuity of measures taken in the past to place curbs on the media.
“Some people don’t want journalists to think freely and struggle for media freedom. We should not yield to them, and nobody will be able to infringe upon our rights,” he said.
He further stated that in present times, countries had been using the media as a tool to attack their rivals and to tackle the issue in Pakistan, media here needed to be empowered, the report said.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif too railed against the bill, terming it a “black law” and expressing solidarity with journalists.
“The government doesn’t have the guts to pass it and we won’t allow it,” he thundered. Sharif warned the government against passing the “black law” otherwise it would have to bear the consequences.
He said the media had a fought a war for its freedom and no one could snatch it . The PML-N President added that he would protest the issue with other opposition leaders in the National Assembly and try to achieve consensus with PPP and other political parties.
Journalist Hamid Mir plans to host a talk show at the site of the sit-in.
The protest call was given by various journalist bodies, headed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.