Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that welfare of journalists and media workers is the government’s top priority and houses will be reserved for 600 journalists from Islamabad region. The information minister said this during a meeting with Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority Lt General (retd) Anwar Ali on Monday. Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib was also present on the occasion. Matters pertaining to inclusion of journalists in the Prime Minister’s Housing programme were discussed in the meeting. Fawad said in the first phase of the Naya Pakistan Housing programme, houses will be reserved for 600 journalists from Islamabad region. Later on, he said, the programme will be extended to Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala. He added that the program will be taken to Peshawar and Quetta. “The working journalists under certain criteria will be accommodated in the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme,” he said. “The government is also contemplating to award health cards to the journalists to enable them to avail healthcare facilities for themselves and their families.” He reiterated the current government’s commitment to ensure free and independent media in the country. He stressed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government considers freedom of the press as a fundamental, democratic and constitutional right. “There is no concept of media censorship in the country,” Minister Fawad said. “Media in Pakistan enjoys unprecedented freedom. The government neither believes nor practices any press advice. Rather, it encourages self-regulation by the media.” The information minister further said that the current government is taking all possible measures to create a congenial environment for journalists to perform their professional obligations. “The steps undertaken to ensure welfare and security of the journalists and media workers include the 8th Wage Board Award and the establishment of the Information Commission,” he said. He further added that the information ministry fully supports the idea of the Journalist Protection Act which would go a long way in ensuring the safety and security of the journalist community. “We are also keen to equip the media with modern technologies and improve the human resource,” the minister maintained. Minister Fawad assured that the government would continue to facilitate the growth of free and responsible media and ensure the safety and security of the working journalists. Meanwhile, in his tweets, the minister paid tributes to those journalists who laid down their lives in the line of duty. “Journalists in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Palestine and other areas go through daily hardships to write the truth,” the minister pointed out. It is part of this government’s agenda to introduce new media technologies and new projects would also be brought this year especially for the young journalists. Separately, in a tweet on Monday, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the government believes in freedom of expression. In connection with the Word Press Day, he paid rich tributes to journalists who rendered sacrifices in the line of duty. He said that provision of facilities to the media and improvement in the living standard of the working journalists is the prime priority of the government.