With the world’s attention diverted to Venezuela, whose democratically elected ‘dictator’, Hugo Chavez, has not renewed the license of a broadcaster implicated in the 2002 coup that briefly overthrew the elected government and replaced it with a ‘democratic’ junta more to Washington’s liking, Pakistan’s actual military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, yesterday provided new powers to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
Just months after parliament had legislated on the relevant issues after years of consultation the new ordinance empowers PEMRA to act against media outlets independent of the committee established for the purpose. Dawn reports
The council was envisaged in the amendments passed in February. The amendment increased the fine for violators to Rs10 million from the existing Rs1 million.
Some 10 amendments were made in the Pemra (Amendment) Act passed in February this year. An amended sub-section (5) of Section 29 reads: “Provided further that the Authority or the chairman may seize a broadcast or distribution service equipment or seal the premises which is operating illegally or (in) contravention of orders passed under Section 30.”
Freedom of expression as understood in
A new provision -- Section 39 (A) -- even
As soon as the new ordinance was announced, journalists took to the streets of
In a move that would be derided as populist opportunism if President General Musharraf were not such a good friend of the Free World and such a close ally in the war of terrorism, he asserted
…that the new federal budget would be a catalyst in bringing about a qualitative change in the life of the poor and ensuring fast economic development. He said poverty would be brought down and job opportunities created through a record Public Sector Development Programme. He said massive economic development activities would be generated as a result of massive allocations for various development projects.
President Musharraf said the country had achieved record economic growth. He underlined the need for transferring the benefits of development to people at the grass-root level. He said measures would be taken to ensure the availability of essential items at subsidised rates. He said steps were being taken to check price hike, especially of items of daily use. He said measures would be taken to check inflation.
He said salaries and pensions of government employees would be increased.
Doubtless such vacuous promises are very welcome in a country where 65.6% of the population live on less than US$2 per day and 13.4% under $1. A full 26% are under
In an apparent rebuff to General Musharraf, Dawn reported that yesterday, the Supreme Court ‘turned down federal government’s request for initiating contempt of the court proceedings against the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for defaming the judiciary and military at a seminar’.