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Hundreds of Pakistani journalists gathered outside parliament to reject a bill that critics say would further curtail media freedom if passed

ISLAMABAD – Hundreds of Pakistani journalists gathered outside parliament on Monday to reject a bill that critics say would further curtail media freedom if passed.

The protest in the capital of Islamabad, which was also attended by senior opposition leaders and members of civil society, called on the government to refrain from passing “black law”.

“We reject the PMDA. It aims to stifle the voice of the media, ”said Nasir Zaidi, a prominent Pakistani journalist.

Another journalist’s union leader, Afzal Butt, pledged to continue protesting the bill, which he said Khan’s government was using to try to silence the media.

Shahbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, vowed that the opposition parties will do their best to block the legislation when the bill is tabled in the National Assembly.

Critics say the proposed law would grant sweeping and uncontrolled powers to the government-controlled regulator by setting up special media courts with the power to impose heavy fines on media organizations and journalists who violate a claim. saying code of conduct or post content that it deems to be. “fake news”.

The legislation was introduced by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan in May. Since then, the government has not been able to pass it through parliament due to opposition from owners of media outlets and journalists’ unions.

Although Pakistan insists it supports free speech, critics say the space for media freedom has shrunk in the Islamic nation, where incidents of attacks on journalists have increased since the Khan government came to power in 2018.

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ABC News