On Thursday, International media boycotted session with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the #DefendMediaFreedom conference as was greeted by empty seats as journalists protested over ‘free speech concerns’ in Pakistan.
Qureshi, on an official visit to the British capital, attended the #DefendMediaFreedom conference with journalists posting videos from an almost deserted hall.
Qureshi was questioned about the censorship in Pakistan. “Believe you me, there is no question of gagging or controlling media,” he told the conference co-hosted by Britain and Canada. “That time has gone and with the new social media, the advent of social media, even if you want to gag you can gag nothing.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan suffered from a negative characterization in the Western media, which did not reflect the reality of the Pakistani media. In the midst of growing questions about the issue of freedom of speech and Pemra’s recent actions against news channels, Shah Mahmood Qureshi told in London conference that Western media ignored the reality of Pakistan.
“I urge you not to be swayed by negative characterisation in international media about Pakistan, which tends to overlook Pakistan’s accomplishments in media and other areas,” said Qureshi.
The foreign minister also had a heated argument with a Canadian social media activist at the event after the latter accused him of getting his Twitter account blocked on Islamabad’s complaint.
Quite embarrassing exchange with Shah Mehmood Qureshi in London today in the #DefendMediaFreedom conference. pic.twitter.com/moNk42sIVs— Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) July 11, 2019
Quite embarrassing exchange with Shah Mehmood Qureshi in London today in the #DefendMediaFreedom conference. pic.twitter.com/moNk42sIVs
— Murtaza Solangi (@murtazasolangi) July 11, 2019
In the video footage, which went viral, it can be seen that the Canadian man says: “You censored me, I had a Twitter account here [in Canada].”
“My tweet produced Pakistan’s blasphemy law and your government had my account taken down, so can you tell me why your Islamic supremacy in Pakistan is silencing my journalistic freedom in Canada,” he added. “You sir should be ashamed, who are you to silence me in Canada…. Answer? You don’t like free speech,” the journalist roared at the foreign minister.
FM Qureshi responded by saying: “First of all you want your sentiments to be respected but look at the tone in which you are speaking….. Is that the correct way?”
The minister said that he did not block his Twitter account. “You have double standards and what you are propping up a certain sections agenda. I have been respectful to you.”
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22 July, 2019