Today discussing the possibility of an increase in the government-mandated rate which media outlets receive for printing mandatory government advertisements, as well as the possibility of finally paying outstanding debts to those outlets, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani demanded that the media outlets stop covering “extremists” so much.
Gilani insisted that extremism in general is a grave threat to Pakistan and that the print and electronic media have an “obligation” to set up some sort of code of conduct that would keep coverage minimal. He insisted that the government supported a free press but insisted that the “code of conduct” would need to be announced in short order.
Gilani was comparatively vague in the talks about exactly what he envisioned this new code including, but couched it in terms of the media’s “responsibility” and promised that the Information Ministry would help in that regard.
Pakistan’s media has repeatedly come under fire in recent years for publishing stories embarrassing to the current government and its American allies. The US Embassy has leaned particularly hard on certain media outlets for reporting the existance of Blackwater forces operating inside Pakistan, and the government ordered a news channel briefly banned for reporting on Pakistani President Zardari’s visit to England, during which a protester threw a shoe at him.
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