Pakistan responded to a dispatch by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Associate Asia Director, Patricia Gossman, on the proposed media bill. Pakistan condemned the claims of the organisation and termed the statement “factually incorrect”.

“The statement of Human Rights Watch is factually incorrect as there is no plan to introduce the regulatory body through an ordinance,” read the letter from Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington DC.

The letter further added, “HRW is misled and its statement is based on hearsay and gossip.”

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“In the public interest, like other developed countries, we need to introduce holistic policy responses to the challenges of fake news, disinformation, hate speech, abusive content, privacy issues, copyright violations on the emerging information communication technologies.”

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The letter further states, “Hence, as per global best practices and independent regulatory body – Pakistan Media Development Authority is under consideration for addressing challenges and requirements for convergent media of the 21st century to make Pakistan a major global center for multimedia information and content services.”

Patricia Gossman took to Twitter and wrote, “Wow. You have identified no inaccuracies in our article and you have failed to provide a draft of the law. What are you hiding?”

Meanwhile, in its statement, HRW said, “The government claims an ordinance setting up the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) would replace the ‘fractured’ regulatory environment and fragmented media regulations currently in place. The proposed PMDA would bring all media in Pakistan – print, television, radio, films, and digital media – under one regulator.”

The proposed law would also increase government control by allowing government officials to be appointed to key positions.

With journalists under relentless attack for doing their jobs, the Pakistan government needs to stop trying to control reporters and instead start protecting media freedom, added HRW.