The Speaker for the National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, has barred journalists from the coverage of all proceedings through cell phones, while expressing serious annoyance over the video clips of a recent unpleasant incident that occurred in the National Assembly.
The decision was made in the light of recent events when lawmakers from either side of the aisle scuffled in the National Assembly. Video clips of the incident went viral over social media and tv channels soon after.
It should be mentioned that due to the lack of any kind of live coverage of the proceedings, it was the norm for journalists to record speeches and then have them sent to the media houses.
However, due to the recent events, even cell phones have now been banned. Furthermore, instead of handling the issue of the lawmakers, the Speaker cited rules and regulations of the parliament.
According to the Speaker, parliamentary rules and regulations don’t allow the coverage of proceedings through Mobile Phones and he also directed the concerned authorities to take action against the journalists who were involved in the recording of the incident.
It is considered the beauty of democratic norms to keep each and everything open before the general public. Parliaments of many democratic countries offer Live Streaming on their websites and YouTube channels, which in turn help ensure transparency in parliamentary proceedings. However, the latest move by the National Assembly denies the public such kind of right.
In this digital age of social media, one can only ask why parliamentary rules must cannot be modified to facilitate the latest communication equipment? Or is it just an excuse to hide the truth from the eyes of public by hiding what is actually going on in the National Assembly by restricting the media?
Live broadcasting should be allowed in order to show the proceedings of the National Assembly to the people of Pakistan. As public representatives, the parliamentarians are answerable to the people of Pakistan. Therefore it is important that the proceedings of National Assembly should be broadcast nationally unless in extraordinary or sensitive cases when media proceedings of the NA may need to be blacked out.