“Accused will not be excused” Inquiry ordered to find real culprits trying to create rift between govt and media” Marriyum

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ISLAMABAD, Sep 11 (APP): Minister of state for Information,
Broadcasting and National Heritage Ms.Marriyum Aurangzeb talking to the media outside parliament house today about news reports regarding promulgation of an Ordinance by the government to put curbs on the print media and creation of a regulatory body on the pattern of PEMRA , clarified that neither any such proposal was ever discussed in the ministry nor she had passed any orders in this regard as ascribed to her in the letters that were sent to the Press Council by an officer of the ministry.
She said that a formal inquiry had been ordered with a time-line of
three days to find the real culprits who were trying to create rift between the government and the media and the accused would not be excused.
The minister dissociated herself from the said letters which formed the
basis of the media reports. She said that during a briefing of the Press Council of Pakistan, when she assumed the charge of the ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Natrional Heritage, she had expressed the opinion that with a view to facilitate the media and resolving their difficulties concerning their dealings with the ministry, the office of the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Press Registrar and Press Council of Pakistan be merged to make it a one window operation. No formal orders were issued for drafting of any legislation or ordinance, the minister added. The minister revealed that even the Prime Minister had also inquired about the issue.
She said that an informal inquiry conducted in the ministry in the
backdrop of the media reports had revealed that a junior officer in the Internal Publicity Wing had written the letters to the Press Council of Pakistan for the preparation of the Ordinance, without informing the higher authorities and adopting the required procedure which was usually done whenever a legislation or an ordinance was to be promulgated.
She said that there was no record available on the files of the ministry
regarding the initiation of this move and she was really surprised to read the media reports about the proposed legislation adding that approval of the law ministry was essential whenever any legislation was required to be done by any ministry of the government.
The minister informed the media that the concerned officer had been
suspended and the head of the Internal Publicity Wing had been made OSD pending the findings of the formal inquiry. The minister promised that she would share the findings of the inquiry with the media.
The minister said that she in her capacity as minister for Information
was a representative of the media in the ministry wedded to the cause of freedom of expression. She said her responsibility was also to improve government-press relations which were only possible through measures designed to strengthen freedom of expression.
She posed a question as to how a government which had all along stood
for independence of media could contemplate to gag the media? Reiterating the media-friendly credentials of the government she reminded that with a view to facilitate the media and ensuring transparency the government had refined the Access to Information Bill and had it passed from the Senate which would now be presented in the National Assembly.
The government she said was also working on a draft legislation for the
welfare of the journalists and ensuring a safe working environment for them, in consultation with all the stakeholders besides arranging capacity building courses for the journalists in the Information Service Academy. All these steps, she asserted, were aimed at facilitating the media and upholding the freedom of expression.
Later talking to a private TV channel the minister said that the news
about the promulgation of an Ordinance came as a surprise to her. She also explained the background of the episode and the institution of inquiry. Responding to a question about the role of the Press Council of Pakistan and the sharing of the responsibility for the faux pas, the minister said that Council could not be entirely blamed for it as it had prepared the draft of the Ordinance on the instructions received from an official of the ministry. The minister said that she had asked the Chairman of the Press Council to remove from the agenda the item pertaining to the proposed Ordinance. She conceded the suggestion that it was a very serious issue which needed a thorough probe and strict action.
The MOS said that she firmly believed that the role of the Information
ministry was to promote a culture of facilitation for the media rather than creating hurdles in their professional duties. Regarding a question about the Sharif family not appearing the Ehtsab Court, she endorsed her earlier statement in this regard maintaining that until and unless the review petitions were disposed off by the SC there was no point for the family to appear before the court.