Access to information imperative to ensure smooth Govt-media relationship: Says former Secretary Information

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 11 (APP):The free flow of information as well as access to information is imperative to ensure smooth government-press relationship said Syed Anwar Mahmood who performed his duties as a top media manager for about four decades in different official capacities.
About the role of Information Ministry, where he served as federal secretary and Principal Information officer, Anwar said it has to act as a bridge between the government and the media to educate and inform the people about working of various state institutions.
He was addressing as a key-note speaker at a media seminar arranged here by Department of Mass Communication of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) late night Tuesday. The seminar, presided over by the Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui was also addressed by eminent anchor person Rauf Klasra and the Department’s Chairman Saqib Riaz.
Anwar Mahmood who also served as press secretary to former Prime Ministers Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Muhammad Khan Junejo shared with scholars and students of the Mass communication about his eye-witness account and experience developing good working relations between the government and the press.
He spoke in detail on the topic of ‘journalism and government, what he saw’ and explained the dynamics of media’s policies and working, relating to the day-to-day official coverage. He observed that the pressure tactics to suppress the media had never been useful or result-oriented. Rather, it brought a bad name to the government and damaged national interests.
The seminar was the part of series of activities, undertaken by the University to highlight the importance of media in educating the people as well media-academia collaborative partnership in addressing the socio-economic problems of the society.
The speakers appreciated the Vice Chancellor for developing the AIOU as a vibrant educational institution, efficiently providing academic and literary support to its 1.3 million students across the country.
Addressing the seminar, Dr Shahid Siddiqui said that media has emerged as most powerful social institution in the recent years for the transformation of the society. He also highlighted the AIOU’s achievements in developing the University as the country’s role-model learning institution and a hub and literary and cultural activities.
The University, he said fulfills its duties, crating and construction knowledge through various means including media-academic interaction.
Syed Anwar Mahmood said, while working in the corridor of power, he went through various experience of handling the media. It was a tough job, but it had been utmost efforts to use his good office and personal contacts to get proper coverage of the government’s activities, instead of doing so through pressure tactics.
Mahmood said it had been his passion to serve the media industry, upholding its dignity and independence. It was his pride that in 2002, when he was serving as Secretary Information in the government of former President General (Retired) Pervaiz Musharraf, the media’s expansion took place with a number of news TV channels. Most of the pro-media laws were enacted during that period, he added. He was happy currently the media personnel’s salary-package is comparatively much better.
While narrating his working experience with top-slots including former President Zia Ul Haq, Asif Ali Zardari and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Muhammad Khan Junejo and Mian Nawaz Sharif, he said he had came to conclusion that the national interest could be well served by free flow of information and keeping high professional ethics and good moral values.
Controlling media through ads, print quota or press-advice had been counter-productive. The governments in the past faced serious consequences due to anti-media policies, he added. Media, he asserted also needed to follow professional ethics and relevant media’s laws in their professional working to ensure smooth government-press relationship.
The speakers praised Anwar Mahmood for performing his official duties with dignity and honor. He is highly respected in the media’s circles due to his good human qualities and high professional standing, they added.