As journalists continue with sit-in outside of the Parliament House, against the government’s proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), prominent leaders from political parties, student unions, and members of the civil society also joined in to show solidarity.
The protest began on Sunday and is said to continue until President Dr Arif Alvi’s address to the joint session of parliament on Monday.
Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, and MNA Mohsin Dawar, among others, visited the protest site on Sunday night to extend their support.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, Shehbaz Sharif speaking on the media authority bill termed it as “black law” and expressed solidarity with journalists. He said the media had fought a war for its freedom and no one could snatch it.
“The government doesn’t have the guts to pass it and we won’t allow it,” added Shehbaz warning the government against passing the “black law” or bear the consequences.
He tweeted in solidarity with the protestors and said, “PTI government is demolishing every institution that represents democracy. We support journalists in their struggle against PMDA.”
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday slammed the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMDA), saying that the proposed bill is an “attack on the freedom of media and judiciary.”
The PPP chairman vowed his party will not let the government get away with snatching livelihoods from the masses. He showed solidarity with journalists who have been attacked, saying that the PPP “will not be satisfied till they [journalists] are not satisfied.”
“Even if they manage to have this black law passed, journalists will [struggle to] have it abolished,” he added.
Bilawal warned the government that if it tried to have the PMDA law passed via force, the PPP will challenge it in the courts. The PPP chairman said he feared the government will try to pass the bill during a joint sitting of the Parliament.
Bilawal said his party will attend the joint sitting of the Parliament with a two-point agenda; to advocate for the rights of 20,000 government employees who were sacked and to campaign for freedom of speech.
PPP leaders, Senator Sherry Rehman and Raza Rabbani, visited the protest camp and addressed the protesters.
“We have repealed all the ordinance regarding media censorship, whether it was Ayub Khan or Zia-Ul-Haq. This is why the government won’t bring this on the Parliament floor because we will repeal the PMDA bill and they are scared”
Marriyum Aurangzeb, along with PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, also visited the protest site on Monday.
Addressing the protesters, Iqbal criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for “attacking and attempting to muzzle” the media.
Referring to the PMDA bill, he called it a “conspiracy” and said if the bill was passed, “democracy will die in this country”.