World leaders, Journalists and others gathered in London for a 2-day “Defend Media Freedom” conference to agree on ways to defend media freedom. Conference was organized by United Kingdom and co-host, the Government of Canada.
However, the biggest embarrassment of the conference was the invitation to the Pakistan’s Foreign Minister who was invited on the panel. It was an Irony that this Journalist’s body that organized this conference considered Pakistan Foreign Minister as a panelist suitable for the “Defend Media Freedom” conference. It is the same Pakistan where journalists are disappeared and openly killed for reporting anything against Pakistan Army or its Intelligence agency ISI.
In a biggest ever embarrassment for Pakistan, Media Journalists boycotted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s session and empty chairs welcomed him. As per the Social Media users, it was very unfortunate and shameful for the meeting organizers to invite Pakistan during the “Defend Media Freedom” conference in London.
Qureshi’s presence at the conference was not popular, as illustrated by the rows of empty seats because of people boycotting his appearance.
Social Media also criticized Pakistan. One of the Twitter user Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) tweeted “In the major international conference “Defend Media Freedom” in London today, journalists boycott Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s session as empty chairs welcome him”
Pakistan Twitter Censorship
There is great resentment among social activists, journalists and Twitter users on Pakistan Government complaining to Twitter and getting tweets of Twitter users deleted on the pretext of allegedly violating Pakistan Law. We covered it extensively on our previous article on this subject “Anger against Pakistan Govt sending Legal Notice to Twitter users beyond its territorial jurisdiction.”
Journalists boycotting the presence of Pakistan Foreign Minister and empty chairs greeting him, was not enough embarrassment for Pakistan. A noted Canadian Journalist Ezra Levant confronted Pakistan Foreign Minister and questioned him on Pakistan Government complaining to Twitter and getting tweets of Twitter users deleted on the pretext of allegedly violating Pakistan Law.
“You censored me Sir. I have a twitter account in Canada. Because I wrote something that violated some Pakistani blasphemy law, you complained to Twitter, which took down my tweet in Canada. So, can you explain why your Islamic supremacy in Pakistan, is silencing my personal and journalistic freedom in Canada? I know it happened in United States too.”
“You should be embarrassed to invite a censor like this,” Ezra Levant told the panel, asked Pakistan Foreign Minister, “Who the hell are you to censor me in Canada? Answer”
“You don’t like free speech”
Qureshi then proceeded to blather on claiming he was “being respectful” to Levant while completely failing to answer the question.
Qureshi openly lied and didn’t admit to the censorship by Pakistan Government.
“You censored me, shame on you,” Levant emphasized while Qureshi continued to act offended that he was being confronted on the issue, moreover, Qureshi abused noted journalist Ezra Levant “You have double standards. You forget you have double standards. What you call freedom at times you are projecting certain satirical agendas”
“You censorious thug!” asserted Levant while pointing at Qureshi.
Suppression of Free speech and Media Gag in Pakistan
Calling Pakistan Foreign Minister to a conference was a biggest blunder by the organizers overlooking the suppression of Media. Pakistan follows the policy of “shoot the messenger”. 61 journalists have been killed in Pakistan between 1992 and 2019. Their crime, they wrote against the Pakistan Government or Pakistan Army or Pakistan Intelligence Agency ISI.
On July 8, 2019, Military-backed #PEMRA took off-air three news channels namely 24News, AbbTak News and Capital News without any prior notice or giving them a hearing, for showing live speech of Maryam Nawaz. Journalism organizations announce country-wide protests in Pakistan in solidarity with Capital TV.
Earlier on June 12, 2019, A new order issued by Pakistan’s media regulatory PEMRA has advised media channels to not air “satirical content” that demeans politicians or individuals associated with law enforcement agencies.
The “advice of airing satirical content” order issued by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on June 12 has advised media houses to carefully select words and gestures while creating content or memes.
“Furthermore, an effective In-House Editorial Committee must also be constituted in order to ensure compliance of PEMRA laws which could sift unwarranted content,” the order declared.
Recently on 9th July, A journalist, Mureed Abbas working with a Pakistan News channel “Bol TV” was killed outside a local café in Khayaban-e-Bukhari area of Karachi.
Earlier, another Journalist Gorhar Wazir was abducted on May 29, 2019 and kept in detention in at a prison in Haripur District without any charges. He was released after a few days on May 31 . He was in North Waziristan while covering the incident and miseries of people after the Pakistan Army attacked the peaceful, non-violent, Gandhinian protesters during a rally of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), and opened fire that killed over 21 civilians and injured over 100.
As per the Social Media users, it was very unfortunate and shameful for the meeting organizers to invite Pakistan during the “Defend Media Freedom” conference in London.
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