LAHORE: In a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain highlighted the Pakistani media’s plight amid recent curbs and struggles.
Hussain's letter came after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspended the 24 News HD channel's license.
The former prime minister said the media was the fourth pillar of state and due to the prevailing circumstances, it seemed like it was being targeted.
“Difference are made between media and government but the ones who drift you apart will not bear any losses; rather it is you who will face problems,” he wrote.
The PML-Q leader said he had apprised PM Imran about Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's arrest and that, after the cancellation of 24 News HD channel's license, the impression that the PTI-led government was gagging the media had gained strength.
“As the country faces several crises, curbs are also being imposed on freedom of speech,” he said.
Speaking of the relationship with media during his tenure, he said: “The then-information minister, Sheikh Rashid, brought a summary to me, which stated that after payment of Rs5million, a TV channel licence would be issued.
“I told him that the sum wasn’t needed,” he said, adding that Rashid was instructed to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that without paying such a hefty license fee, channels could operate but should refrain from airing anti-state content and that if they do, action would be taken.
Hussain said he met Information Minister Shibli Faraz and "I told him that I hope he walks on the footsteps of his father".
“People from all walks of life were dear to his father, Ahmed Faraz,” he added.
Hussain further advised the prime minister by saying all such matters could be resolved by negotiations.
“I hope that your information minister holds talks with all media house owners and resolves the problems,” he said. “The decision to revoke 24 News’ license should be revoked to save media workers from unemployment.”