By Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO PMA

India is a country where freedom of speech has long been valued. Just a few weeks ago, on World media Freedom Day, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, to reaffirm his commitment towards “steadfastly supporting free press”.

But support for media freedom has to be in our actions, not just our words. Sadly, it seems that media freedom in India is changing.

PMA’s recent past president, Moneeza Hashmi, is the daughter of revered Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. In her own right, Moneeza Hashmi is a long time campaigner for peace and an eminent media person in South Asia.

Back in February, Moneeza shared her delight with me after she received an email inviting her to speak at the 15thAsia Media Summit in Delhi, organised by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD). It was a well deserved honour and she had a visa for Delhi. Her name was in the summit programme as speaker on the inaugural day.

With all of this in place it must have been a great shock for this 72 year-old media veteran to arrive at the venue and discover that her booking was not recognised by the event hotel. Furthermore, she was then informed by the event organiser that she would not be allowed to speak. To date no explanation has been forthcoming. Ms Hashmi headed home quietly to Pakistan but those who care about media freedom in India are not so silent on the events of the AMS.

It is ironic that one of her father’s most famous lines is ‘Speak, for your lips are free’.

PMA will be writing to Chang Jin the director of AIBD and the Indian Authorities to request a full explanation and apology.

Header Image: Former PMA President, Moneeza Hashmi talking at PMA’s Brisbane AGM. Credit: PMA