While eulogizing media’s struggle to safeguard democracy, President Dr Arif Alvi Friday called for its active role in highlighting the social and health issues like malnutrition and children’s stunted growth.Addressing the Pakistan Media Convention organized by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) titled ‘Media and Democracy: Towards Free, Independent, Sustainable Media in Pakistan’, the president drew attention towards 40 percent cases of stunted growth and deprivation of women of their rights, particularly the right to inheritance. He said almost 90 percent of women in Pakistan remained deprived of their inheritance rights and urged media to support the government on such issues by allocating considerable space and time for the public awareness. He hinted at conferring award to the media outlet allocating maximum space to public service messages on social issues. On the financial crisis faced by the media, the president hoped that their economic conditions would improve through trickle-down impact following the improvement of national economy. However, he said print media would have to evolve itself to cope with the challenges like digital and social media. He said considering the very challenges, some of the newspapers had opted for e-editions. He said the interest of the young generation in print media had diminished. He viewed that the media could not become self-dependent till the strengthening of the national economy that would ultimately impact the advertising business.Calling for unbiased role of media, the president drew attention towards fake news phenomenon spreading globally. He said the freedom and self-responsibilities of media must not be diluted and said self-regulation would be the most effective way to handle it. However, he called for a threadbare discussion between the government and media on the issues of finances as well as regulations. Addressing the closing ceremony of the seminar, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that interests of Pakistani media were linked with growth in national economy and it should project economic progress of the country. He said national media should not fall prey to negative western narrative on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was set to become backbone of the national economy. Fawad said an independent and sustainable media was important pillar of the state and the government was desirous of its growth. The minister said that present advertising budget had reached Rs 86 billion and with projected growth rate of 5 to 7 pc during PTI government in coming years, advertisement budget would witness reasonable a boost. He said that the future of media in Pakistan was not bleak. He clarified that talking about new developments in technology did not mean discouraging the media.He said that in the current month advertisements worth Rs 300 to 350 million were being issued to print media only. He said that after the passage of 18th Amendment, about 58 revenue of the country had been shifted to provinces, and now it was their responsibility to cater to the needs of regional media. He said that presently about Rs 2.6 billion advertisements were going to the digital media and the amount would likely to reach Rs 7 billion in five years. He called for regularization of advertisement of digital media as foreign exchange was going abroad via this advertisement. He said there was need to adopt to new technologies so that they should prove beneficial to the country.He said that foreign investment worth billions of dollars was coming to Pakistan but national media was not projecting it properly. Citing the example of Saudi Arabia planning to make the biggest investment in the region by building third largest oil refinery of the world in Pakistan, he said the local media has not highlight this landmark project.He said that Pakistan was relaxing visa regime for citizens of 66 countries of the world to promote tourism in the country. He further said that cultural activities in Pakistan would attract multi-national companies’ investment in Pakistan and it was responsibility of the local media to projects such events.CPNE President Arif Nizami highlighted the financial crisis faced by media industry and urged the government to come up with an effective policy to support media which was dubbed as fourth pillar of the state. He criticized the government’s idea of establishing a media regulatory authority to govern media through one window. He viewed that a democratic media would be more beneficial for the country as both media and democracy should sail and sink together.Published in Daily Times, January 19th 2019.