Fawad underscores the need for strong defamation laws

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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry says “slaps” cannot be ruled out until defamation laws are reformed and implemented in letter and spirit.

A session on “Where is Pakistan heading in the next 10 years?” at ThinkFest on Sunday opened with a lively discussion on the controversy Fawad Chaudhry was involved in. The minister took flak for slapping anchorpersons Mubasher Lucman and previously, Sami Ibrahim.

Responding to a question at the session, Mr. Chaudhry said the YouTube channels’ onslaught had led to airing anything without verification. He said the channels completely disregard the sanctity of families as well as the voters he was representing. “When such a channel airs that there are porn videos of me and upon asking about those videos, the anchorperson answers that someone has told him so, “slap is an obvious answer,” he retorted.

PML-N Senator Musadik Malik corroborated that the onslaught of fake journalism needed to be curbed. As he stressed that the media should regulate itself as was the case the world over, Mr. Chaudhry popped in and asked, “who would regulate the non-journalists”.

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also called for reforming and implementing the defamation laws. The discussion was immediately diverted to the unanimous passage of the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act by parliament as federal minister Chaudhry (smilingly) thanked both panelists for early legislation on the Army Act.

Mr Malik said the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction was to interpret the constitution and it did explain that there was ambiguity over the matter of granting an extension to the Chief of Army Staff.

Stating the court rightly asked to legislate on the matter, he said there was a convention that the prime minister used to grant extensions but the new amendment would allow the prime minister to exercise discretion.

Mr. Khokhar admitted that the political parties’ ideological workers had been disappointed by the action. “We owe an explanation to our ideological workers that why we took this decision,” he said.

Mr. Chaudhry said the Supreme Court’s decision was legally not in the right direction as it gave its order by canceling Article 243. Since it was a Supreme Court decision, he said, the political parties could neither push the country towards anarchy nor could they create confrontation among the state organs nor yet escape political reality.

Speaking about the session, Mr. Khokhar said Pakistan would be facing a serious challenge of climate change and there was a need to find ways to check the menace.

Mr. Chaudhry said the biggest challenge would be religious bigotry and extremism and there would be a need to develop a liberal, progressive and modern nation to meet the 21st century challenges.

“We need to overhaul society to normalize the situation for every minority,” he said. He said India was looking to become a superpower but Modi’s extremist government pushed the country into anarchy,” he said.

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