Essay No. 212:
Freedom Of Expression: Freedom of expression means the freedom one has to express one’s views on different problems. This presupposes that one must have complete freedom to think, speak and act. There must not be any kind of restriction on the freedom of choice of a person in a society.
Freedom of expression relates to political freedom, which is the birthright of every individual. Constitution in a country guarantees political, economic freedom to the people, provided these are exercised within the limits as prescribed by the law of the land. People thus have the right to criticize the policies of a government, if they feel they aim at not promoting their welfare.
That is freedom of speech and expression. They project their viewpoint through press and other means of electronic media. They give vent to their feelings through the publication of articles in different newspapers. The views of the public on national affairs are highlighted by press Urdu and English, and signal the direction policies of government should move to resolve the myriad grave national problems.
It is presumed that the press is free to ventilate the views of the public. It is not subject to any restrictions which a government might impose on it to curtail its freedom. Governments in the Third World countries (civil and military) including Pakistan do not like to excesses don’t to the people.
However, in countries where democratic traditions have been built overtime, the freedom of press is relatively high. The military regimes are allergic to the press freedom, as it is hard for them to digest the criticism against their undemocratic policies. Freedom of expression is at a low key in military-dominated societies. Military rule thus stands for decimating institutions, values including those of freedom of expression.
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It is permanent loss to a society to get stripped naked of freedom of expression and speech. Societies cherishing democratic way of life have to put up relentless struggle to secure different types of freedom, which are snatched away from the people by military regimes for the perpetuation of their dictatorial rule.
In the West, as democracy is stable, freedom of expression is granted to the people. If any lapse occurs on the part of the executive, it is immediately reported in the press. The ruling government comes under fire and has to apologies to the people for the sins of omission and commission done by it. Freedom of expression is an integral part of democracy.
That has to be sustained for the cause of democracy. The ruling junta dreads press criticism and is always on its toes to avoid doing anything which runs contrary to the national welfare. One of the causes of success of democracy in the West and the US is that public opinion is very strong, which is manifested through freedom of expression.
One may however, observe that the press in Pakistan is relatively free today but proper notice is not taken of what it writes about. At the higher level the rulers seem to be prisoners of certain exigencies, which prevent them from implementing the programmer to promote independent judiciary in Pakistan. The nation critically needs the dispensation of justice through independent judiciary.
‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ said Voltaire. The salvation of societies lies in upholding freedom of expression. It is a guarantee of their economic, political growth. Lack of freedom of expression leads to overall stunted growth.