Pakistan will not attend a meeting of the press councils of Saarc nations on Wednesday to be held in the Capital, since the delegation has not been given visas to travel to New Delhi.
Representatives from seven of eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries will meet to chalk out the strategy for forming a collective of press councils from the region proposed by India.
Sources said the delegation from Pakistan that had been extended an invitation to join in July was not given travel sanction.
The Press Council of India has proposed the setting up of Saarc Asia Press Council to form an alliance for protection of press freedom, safety of journalists and setting guidelines for ensuring ethics. The alliance is also expected to help in fostering better ties through media coordination.
Press Council representative from Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka will meet on Wednesday to discuss the domain of the proposed Council that will be lead by India. Since, Bhutan and Afghanistan do not have a press council, they will be represented by officials of the diplomatic missions.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the golden jubilee celebration of the Press Council of India on Wednesday, which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The PCI, instituted in 1966 by Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission, was set up with the object of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India.
PCI chairperson, justice CK Prasad, said the council pitched the idea of setting up a media council and extending the ambit of the PCI to include electronic media — broadcast as well as social media.
Batting for more powers for the PCI, justice Prasad said there is a misconception that it is a “paper tiger”. He was, however, quick to add that it is not a “regulator to police the media” either.
“In media, we are often described as a paper tiger...this is not true.” He cited examples of how state governments were forced to reverse orders impinging press freedom.
(With inputs from Jayanth Jacob)