Asif Ali zardari Former president and senior PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari has vowed to continue the party’s support for the freedom of journalism. In his message on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the former president paid tribute to those journalist heroes who suffered torture and were lashed for the freedom of the press. Zardari said Minhaj Barna, Nisar Usmani and IA Rehman were bright stars of press freedom. He said the press was under undeclared shackles. He said Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had abolished dictatorial laws against the freedom of the press. He was of the view that to stifle difference of opinion was tantamount to gag freedom of speech. He said the 1973 Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech. Shehbaz Sharif PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif has demanded that the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, in consultation with all parties, should enact emergency legislation to protect the media and provide an enabling environment in the country. He paid tribute to journalists and pen workers on World Press Freedom Day. Shehbaz Sharif said, “Like the economy and other sectors of the country, the current era is the darkest for the media. In the present era, journalism, truth, dissent has been made a serious crime which is reprehensible and dictatorial.” “As the fourth pillar of the state, even in the most difficult of circumstances, journalists have performed their professional duties. Without the media, those who are lustful become plaintiffs and judges themselves,” the PML-N president said. Journalists are struggling to cope with severe financial difficulties and unfavourable professional conditions, he added. Shehbaz Sharif said that journalism is more of a great mission than a sacred profession and a government that does not have constitutional freedom of the press cannot be called a democracy. Bilawal Bhutto Separately, in a message issued on World Press Freedom Day, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari demanded the authorities to lift ‘declared and undeclared’ restrictions on media in Pakistan. Bilawal alleged that the PTI government clipped freedom of press through bullying threats and pressure and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has strangled the media to hide its own illegitimacy, incompetence and utter failures in every sector. Bilawal demanded to abolish all censorship including self-imposed censorship through secret threats and media should be allowed to play its role as an independent watchdog. The PPP chairman said he fully supports this year’s theme of International Independence Day, ’Information a Public Good’ and there should be an end to the era of sponsored media trials against opposition leaders in Pakistan. “Several impartial journalists and anchorpersons have been forcibly removed from TV screens and now those journalists express their impartial analysis and comments on social media,” Bilawal added. PPP had always been at the forefront on the issue of press freedom in Pakistan and it was Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who abolished the black laws that Ziaul Haq had imposed on journalism. CM KP Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan Monday said that the importance of independent journalism in any democratic society cannot be overlooked and in the current situation of the corona epidemic, the importance of independent and responsible journalism has increased. In a message in connection with the “World Journalism Day” Mahmood Khan said that “today is the day to highlight the importance and need of independent journalism.” He said that without independent journalism, democracy and strengthening of democratic institutions is not possible. Freedom of media in the country is the result of long struggle of the journalist community. “I pay tribute to the journalists who have sacrificed for the freedom of the press in the country.” On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the KP CM said that the present government fully believes in freedom of expression and media and taking effective measures for welfare and protection of journalists’ community, adding that journalists of KP have kept the knowledge of freedom of press high in difficult times.