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Bilawal terms PMDA an ‘attack on freedom of media, judiciary’

PPP chairman says Opposition united against government. (Source: Screengrab)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly criticized the government’s proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA)m saying that the proposed bill was an “attack on the freedom of media and judiciary.”

The PPP Chairman joined media workers and civil society members who are protesting outside the Parliament House against the PMDA before President Arif Alvi’s address to the joint sitting of the Parliament.

Bilawal Bhutto 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 the freedom of speech.

“These employees were not the PPP’s workers,” he said, asking, “This is the second time that government employees have been fired. What will they do now?”

He also 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 are not satisfied.”

Criticizing Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhutto said the Opposition was united against the PTI government, saying that the government does not let the Opposition speak. “The government tries to have laws passed secretly,” he added.

He 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.

Meanwhile, addressing the protest, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said has slammed the “draconian” PMDA and vowed to not let the government pass legislation on it in the Parliament.

“All of Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) parties support journalists. The media has always fought for its freedom,” the Opposition leader said, assuring that nor did the government have it in itself and neither will his party allow the government to legislate on the media authority.

Journalists and media bodies have rejected the proposed PMDA vehemently and termed the concept “unconstitutional” and a move to “muzzle the freedom of press and expression by imposing state control” to regulate all media platforms under one central body.