Proposed Law To Curb Fake News Sent To Cabinet For Approval: Information Minister

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that a proposed law to curb fake news in the country has been sent to the cabinet for approval.

In a series of tweets on Friday, the minister said Pakistan cannot move forward unless there were political reforms. “Reforms concerning judiciary and media are also necessary,” he added.

Earlier, the information minister had said that the “greatest challenge” being faced by modern media was fake news. “The phenomenon of fake news emerged after a revolution in information technology and an increase in the number of media platforms,” he told a seminar.

Dialogue With TTP

Also on Friday, as mainstream political parties questioned the rationale and strategy for the government’s dialogue with the TTP, Chaudhry said the talks were meant to woo reconcilable elements at a time when the banned group had been weakened.

He was speaking virtually at a dialogue of political parties on the government’s talks with TTP. The event was hosted by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), a local think tank.

The IPI meeting was meant to assess the political and security ramifications of the government’s dialogue with TTP.

Chaudhry insisted that not everyone in TTP was ideologically committed to the group and many of them were ready to reconcile with the state.

He emphasized that the hardcore base of the group was very narrow, comprising hardly 1,500–2,000 militants. This group would be significantly weakened if the certain members were open to reconciliation.

“The state wanted to give an opening to the people who do not want to raise arms against us. We can’t prolong fights generation after generations,” he said, adding that those who would not renounce violence would be dealt with sternly.

The minister said the government was negotiating from a position of strength, unlike the mistake made by the United States in Afghanistan who did not talk to Afghan Taliban when it was at the peak of its power.

PML-N Vice President Khurram Dastgir Khan said his party rejected talks with the TTP at this stage because there was no clarity about the process and the group with which talks were being held.

“Pakistani state’s negotiation with and mainstreaming of extremist religious groups have both failed catastrophically in the recent past. There is no cause or justification for Imran Khan regime’s unilateral offer of amnesty to an organization that has murdered tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians as well as soldiers,” he said.

He said government’s offer of amnesty to the TTP was a blunder of appeasement, and “taken condemnably” without consulting Parliament.

The PML-N, he said, demanded that the government should brief the parliament with detailed facts as well as its overall strategy.

Pakistan People’s Party Secretary General Farhatullah Babar also called on the state to clarify its position with regards to the dialogue with the terrorist group.

“Before we get into talks with the militants, we have to set our strategic interests and goals,” he said.

Babar feared that Pakistan’s support for Afghan Taliban was helping the local militant groups psychologically.

“If we are supporting Afghan Taliban, we are indirectly supporting TTP because they are one and the same,” he said.

The PPP leader further asked the government to keep an eye on the great game in Afghanistan while making such moves.

Regarding the government’s amnesty offer for TTP militants, he said, concessions should not be extended unilaterally.

MQM leader Senator Faisal Subzwari said poor progress on National Action Plan against terrorism and absence of a narrative for countering militants brought the country to the situation it was confronted with now.

ANP Information Secretary Samar Bilour questioned the need for talks at a time when the wounds inflicted by TTP were still fresh. She regretted that the Parliament was bypassed on the matter.

Majlis Wahdate Muslimeen Deputy Secretary General Nasir Shirazi said that the government should ascertain whether the TTP groups that it is talking to have shunned violence and are committed to pursuing peace. He also called for taking the heirs of martyrs on board on the talks.