Summary by the Commission of arguments supporting Perspective One
in Category Terms of Reference No. A
Summary by the Commission of arguments supporting Perspective One i.e. to justify the continued functioning of the Ministry, consistent with Article 19 of the Constitution:
1. That the scale of complexity of both the Federation of Pakistan and four Provinces in terms of territory, population, demography, economic activity, agriculture, industry and the service sectors, aspects of governance, communication, infrastructure, internal and external security, the daily work of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary — all these facets of the nation’s existence and progress generate an enormous volume and variety of data and details.
2. That the collection of such information, the sifting from this raw data of the more significant elements, the processing of this information into coherent forms and the dissemination by the system requires specialized skills, professional experience, exclusive focus and organizations dedicated to the precise requirements relevant to all the above phases of the information sector and that such capacity cannot be diffused and segmented into different parts of the Federal Government, or the Provincial Governments, because of the very specialized and professional requirements of information-handling.
3. That the need for a Ministry of Information & Broadcasting at the Federal level and supportive Departments/agencies of Information at the Provincial levels is the result of a need recognized in the specific function of Broad-casting regulation by the structure of government in South Asia even before the Independence of Pakistan. This was evident in the Government of India Act, 1935 by its reference to the Broadcasting dimension in particular and was consistently thereafter reinforced by Constitutional and legal instruments, right up to 2011, when the 18th Amendment was adopted.
Simultaneously, the evolution of an “Information” dimension in the nomenclature of the Ministry reflected the increase in the scope and significance of the printed Press, Radio Broadcasting and later, Television during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
4. That the existence of a single focal point in the second decade of the 21st century for formally articulating the viewpoints of the Federal Government and all the Provincial Governments respectively, ensures coordination, consistency and clarity, and prevents confusion and distortion.
5. That the system by which the Federal Government and the four Provincial Governments recruit officers and personnel for Government service provides for specialized training and capacity building of such persons to be able to meet the exact requirements of the complex and rapidly changing Information sector.
6. That, because of the vigorous exercise of freedom of expression by both privately-owned print media and electronic media in Pakistan as per Article 19 of the Constitution, the continued existence and functioning of the Federal Ministry of Information and the Provincial Departments of Information do not, in any way, impede or obstruct the fulfillment of the rights of citizens defined by Article 19.
7. That with regard to the allegation that the centralized control by the Press Information Department of the Federal Ministry of Information over the placement of advertising on behalf of all Government Ministries, attached departments and organizations in print media in particular : such control only serves to ensure that advertising reaches targeted audiences and that media are selected on the basis of relevance to the objectives of advertising on a particular subject, while also ensuring that print media published from non-metropolitan regional locations also receive a reasonable, modest share of revenue of Government-controlled advertising.
8. That, whereas prior to 2008, during non-democratic phases of the country’s history, and sometimes even during democratic phases, the Ministry of Information and the Provincial Departments of Information were used to prevent print and electronic media from exercising freedom of expression, onwards of the new civil, political, democratic dispensation which commenced in 2008, the official information machinery has fully supported and facilitated freedom of expression by all media.
9. That with the advent and dominance of privately-owned electronic media in particular, along with the continued existence of privately-owned print media and in view of the large volume of news and analyses produced by such private media which are mostly critical of the policies of the Federal and the Provincial Governments in office at any given time, the need for a minimal institutional presence at the Federal and the Provincial levels to articulate the formal viewpoints of the Governments-of-the-day becomes even greater, so as to ensure balance and provide the people with the official viewpoints on policies and issues.
10. That every Member-State of the 8-Member SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) of which Pakistan is a founding Member, virtually every Member-State of the 54-Member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), of which Pakistan is also a founding Member, and many other States around the world including one of Pakistan’s closest allies and friends i.e. the People’s Republic of China, as also countries as varied as South Africa and Kenya in Africa, contain Central or Federal Ministries of Information, or organizations with either Ministerial-level mandates to specifically provide policy directions for the media sector or a Council, etc. which fulfill, broadly speaking, functions similar to that of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in Pakistan. That therefore, Pakistan is in line with several dozens of other countries, many of which are also democracies and which are of the opinion that the Ministries or Departments of Information provide essential institutional arrangements for the Information sector of their respective countries.