‘Unstable’ Afghanistan to have direct impact on Pakistan: Fawad



Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that Pakistan wanted an “inclusive” government in Afghanistan because any instability in the war-torn country would have a direct impact on Pakistan.

“Afghanistan is a major country with 40 million population and we have concerns about the human tragedy [cropping up] in Afghanistan, where innocent children are being sold for food,” the minister told an interactive session with the press attaches of various embassies.

Terming a recent report on Afghanistan by The Economist ‘worrisome,’ he said that some 23 million people in Afghanistan, out of the total population of 38 million, suffered from malnutrition.

“Poverty in Afghanistan threatens to create a human tragedy. Videos are coming out from there showing that innocent children are being sold for food,” he said, adding that it was high time for the international community to come forward to avert humanitarian crisis in the land-locked country.

“We have fought a war [against terrorism] in tribal areas for a long period of time and when we launched the operation, up to 45,000 Pakistanis migrated to Afghanistan and they should be given a chance to return to their country,” he added.

Chaudhry also spoke about the problem of fake news and said the issue stemmed from the excessive use of technology. In 2003, the then American President Barack Obama had said that the biggest challenge for the governments in modern era would be to organise flow of information, he noted.

The minister said all the countries around the globe were facing challenge of “flow of information” and trying to tackle the issue with the help of legislation. “The US, the UK and the EU are also taking steps to curb fake news and propaganda campaigns,” he added.

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Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s media was considered as one of the biggest industry among the developed countries with more than 200 television channels and over 2,000 websites and YouTube channels operating in the country.

Likewise, the information minister added, more than 1,500 dailies and a large number of weekly and monthly newspapers were also published in the country, whereas, around 48 international news outlets were working here.

He said the present government had proposed the idea of setting up the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), aimed at unifying all the media relevant laws. At present, there were over half a dozen ‘outdated’ laws, which were not on a par with the demands of modern times, he remarked.

He said currently, there were seven regulatory bodies to run the media departments in the country. The existing laws were prepared before digital revolution and “we want to bring them on a par with modern-day demand”, he added.

The minister said television, newspapers and radio had become part of the mobile phone in modern times. “Today, we tweet the information coming from WhatsApp and it reaches easily to radio, TV and newspapers,” he added.

He pointed out that India had run false propaganda against Pakistan many a time, adding that the issue was not only of Pakistan as there were other countries facing the same problem.

He called for collective efforts at the international level to eliminate fake news. There should be regulations for the media at the international level, in addition to sanctions of the United Nations so that the abhorrent and fabricated news against any country could not be spread, he added.

The minister said the information ministry’s officials should remain in touch with the information-related staff in the foreign embassies. The information ministry was among the major ministries of Pakistan, he said, terming the External Publicity (EP) Wing its important department.

It was among the foremost priorities of the EP Wing to present the state’s point of view at foreign front and remained updated about international media, Chaudhry stressed.

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