Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that the greatest challenge being faced by the modern media was the dissemination of false propaganda through fake news.
Addressing a seminar on “politics and journalism in the age of fake news” organised by Arab News, he said that the phenomenon of fake news emerged after a revolution in Information Technology (IT) and an increase in the number of media platforms.
The minister said the international community would have to prepare some rules to counter fake news and the aspect of responsibility would have to be added with freedom of expression.
He was of the opinion that there was a need for widespread debate on countering fake news inside media organisations and there was a dire need for proper training for those involved in this industry.
Fawad said that a responsible media could only be called an independent media.
He said that a section of media, especially in social media, was thriving on fake news and they do not want any restriction on fake news and baseless propaganda.
The minister said that the United States, the United Kingdom and European Union had introduced online security rules and there was a need to move in this direction.
Fawad said that former US President Barack Obama rightly said in 2013 that checking the flow of information was the biggest challenge of modern times as this was being used against political parties, governments and even countries.
He said that India had used non-political incidents for gaining political advantage. The minister said that a network of over 785 fake websites being run by India was exposed last year which was linked with Indian news agency ANI and leading news channels that used to generate fake news about Pakistan and tried to malign it.
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“These websites used to create and still had been creating fake news against Pakistan,” he added.
The information minister said that the Indian media tried to exploit the Noor Muqaddam murder case and the Greater Iqbal Park incident to portray that Pakistan was not safe for women.
He said that it was traced that over 175 videos were generated on these incidents daily from Indian websites and tens of thousands of tweets were done and intelligence networks of some neighbouring countries supported this campaign.
He said that even Pakistani media became part of this vilification campaign without knowing the facts.
In 1996, Fawad said, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval managed to stage a fake kidnapping of some tourists in an effort to link the Kashmir struggle with Islamic extremism.
Soon after, a vilification campaign was launched which claimed that the Kashmir freedom movement was linked to terrorism, he added.
The minister said that New Delhi had been declared as the rape capital of the world a couple of years back and India tried to build a counter-narrative to give an impression that such incidents also happened in other parts of the world.
The minister said that a twist was given to a news item and the difference between real and fake news was blurred by the people involved in this unholy business.
The minister said that when the PTI came to power in 2018, the digital media wing was very strong, adding that the government had taken steps to modernise its digital media and digitalisation of official news agency APP to ensure the presence of national perspective on social media and digital platforms.
He said that during the recent crisis in Afghanistan, contradicting news were emerging but Pakistan tried to provide correct information to both national and international media outlets.