Senior journalist Asma Shirazi and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry exchanged hot words during a debate on the proposed Media Development Authority (MDA) in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Thursday.
Chaos ensued in the meeting when Fawad Chaudhry said he did not consider Asad Toor and Absar Alam as journalists.
“Journalists don’t need certification by anyone,” Asma Shirazi fired back.
Mian Javed Lateef, chairperson of the standing committee, intervened to cool down the participants. He reminded the federal minister of his poor behavior.
Journalists across the country have expressed concerns about the proposed authority. It is feared that it will be used as a way to exercise control over all types of media outlets.
Chaudhry admitted in the meeting that the government had no control over social media platforms and stressed that regulating “other media” was vital for the government.
Responding to a question raised by Absar Alam, Fawad Chaudhry had retorted that he did not consider him or Asad Toor as journalists. The federal minister also remarked on division among organizations representing journalists and called out some senior journalists by name.
During the meeting, police was also asked about updates regarding the investigations on cases of attacks on journalists. Mian Javed Lateef asked police officials to explain why they had so far failed to arrest people involved in attacks on journalists, when those accused in the Johar Town attack were captured within 48 hours. Police officials did not provide any satisfactory answers.
A sub-committee was formed under Maryam Aurangzeb to discuss the proposed law. Members of the sub-committee include Kanwal Shozab and Nafeesa Shah.