Once again, Pakistan was ranked ninth this year on the annual Global Impunity Index, compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). It reported the countries where journalists have been killed barbarically, but the murderers are still not held accountable by the law and justice department. According to the CPJ’s 2021 impunity index, the countries with the worst records of allowing killers of journalists to go free include Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh and India. The CPJ’s global impunity index counts the number of unresolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population and for this purpose, it has analysed the cases reported between September 1 and August 31, 2021. Pakistan has been enlisted on the index since its inception in 2008. It was ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Impunity Index 2019 with 16 unsolved murders of media practitioners over the past decade. Since 1994, only three out of over 60 such cases have seen any success in terms of prosecution. As reported by the standing committee, a bill, to promote, protect and effectively ensure the independence, impartially and freedom of expression of journalists and media professionals, was drafted for the aforementioned cause by the human rights ministry, which was worth adopting on its own for several reasons. In accordance with Pakistan’s constitution, as well as its international legal commitments, the state of Pakistan has a responsibility to secure the right of freedom of expression within its territory. The protection and promotion of rights of journalists and media professionals should be deemed central to the safeguarding of the right to freedom of expression. The International Freedom of Journalists has emphasised, ” the work of a free Independent and impartial press contributes one of the basic foundations of a democratic society.” The protection and promotion of rights of journalists and media professionals should be deemed central to the safeguarding of the right to freedom of expression. The man behind the idea is Minister of Information and Broadcast Fawad Chaudhary. When he held charge of the ministry of information and broadcast, he geared up to get this bill through. It was then signed by the president of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, on Wednesday, in the president house, where Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill, Minister for State Farrukh Habib and Minister for Human Rights Dr Sheerin Mazari were also present. Senior journalists and chairpersons of federations for journalists, including Mazhar Barlas, Nasrullah Malik, Meera Sulehri and others from all over Pakistan were invited to witness the remarkable signing of the bill by the President of Pakistan. This bill ensures accountability with the objective of deterring/preventing future threats and attacks against journalists and media professionals by actively investigating, prosecuting and punishing such acts that affect all media professionals and the right of all persons to enjoy their right to freedom of opinion and expression. Dr Arif Alvi expressed his views over the consensus developed on the important legislation. He was content for the bill turning into an Act and that all people in the country were united for the rights of the media community. He said that the new bill had added to the responsibilities of both government and journalists and would also ensure the rights to privacy and source non-disclosure and the establishment of an independent media commission. He added that the journalist community should also present the stories in the right context, adding that society should also show tolerance towards the media professionals. The president expressed his concerns over the spread of fake news by citing a verse from the Holy Quran 49.6, “O you who believe! If some transgressor brings you news (that requires taking action), verify it carefully (before you believe and act upon it), lest you harm a people in ignorance and then become regretful for what you have done.” While addressing the signing, Fawad Chaudhry said that his ministry stood behind the working journalists, and added that a section in Pakistan tried to give the impression that the press was not free here. If there was no free press in Pakistan, there would be no free press anywhere in the world, and when it came to press freedom, we compare ourselves not with the Third World and the Muslim World, but with the First World, he noted. On the occasion, Dr Sheerin Mazari said that the bill for the protection of journalists’ rights was finalised after hectic consultation with all stakeholders and senior journalists also added to it. This Act defined the media professionals and envisaged journalist welfare schemes. It is now the legal obligation of the media owners to provide insurance and training to the media professionals. It took me a few days to take the stance of media workers on this Act signed and all were heaping praises on the new law to protect the rights of journalists. The time has now come to seek what was missed for years. Now, when the government is standing by the working journalists and this Act provides employment protection to them, the journalist community is also cheering loudly. The writer is Chairperson (Global Women Media) and a journalist.