No hindrance to freedom of press and expression: Prime Minister

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said the government has no intention of imposing restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression.

He was talking to a delegation from the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), who called him here on Sunday. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Information Secretary Shahira Shahid, Chief Information Officer Mubashir Hassan and others.

The delegation included CPNE President Kazim Khan, Senior Vice President Ayaz Khan, Punjab Vice President Irshad Ahmed Arif, General Secretary Amir Mahmood and other members.

The Prime Minister promised that under all laws, including the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Order 2016, all possible protections would be given to journalists against wrongful action. The Prime Minister said that the task of reviewing the PECA order had already been given to the Ministry of Justice.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the positive role of CPNE as an institution in press freedom, the survival of democracy and the evolution of democratic institutions. He said the government was keen to work constructively with other journalists’ representative bodies, including the CPNE, to protect the rights of journalists and promote responsible journalism in the country.

The government is taking all possible measures to ensure the production of electricity, its transmission and its supply in order to alleviate the suffering of the population. Prime Minister Shehbaz S said the previous government had doubled the nation’s debt burden in four years, making life harder for the poor. “The government is working hard to ensure that the basic necessities of life, flour, treatment and medicine are available at affordable prices,” he said, adding that institutions like PKLI for treatment Free treatment of the poor and deserving classes had been neglected in the previous government and no special provision was made for the free treatment of the deserving classes.

The Prime Minister said the nation needs solidarity at this time so that extraordinary economic problems can be resolved for the well-being of people. “The government is currently working on all other development projects in the country, including CPEC and Rekodiq,” he added.

The government wanted to have mutual respect and mutual benefit with all countries, including sister countries, in foreign affairs. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated his commitment that electoral reforms were essential for transparent elections in the country.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital in Lahore on Sunday. He stressed that when running public welfare projects, including hospitals to serve the masses, national interests should come first. The six-story, 350-bed hospital was equipped with state-of-the-art treatment facilities.

While praising the owners of the Trust, the Prime Minister expressed hope that the hospital would serve ailing humanity with world-class treatment facilities.

The Prime Minister said that the PMLN government had established the PKLI Hospital in Lahore to serve the masses with the latest treatment facilities and wanted the hospital to operate like the Johns Hopkins Health Facility. He said hepatitis screening centers have been set up in Punjab province under the patronage of PKLI and patients from all over the country will benefit from a treatment center there.

He regretted that dirty politics had been practiced during the last government. The PMLN government was trying to rectify the situation. He said what happened in the past four years was a painful story, adding that the national wealth belonged to the people.

The prime minister, referring to economic constraints, said the government was barely meeting its expenses. He said that Rescue-1122 was an initiative of Pervaiz Elahi, but that the PMLN had extended it to the whole province.

Earlier, Trust President Shehzad Saleem gave an overview of the project. The Prime Minister also visited different sections of the hospital.

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