Marriyum unravels details of fact finding inquiry regarding drafting of law to curb print media

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APP72-19 ISLAMABAD: September 19 - Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for IB&NH addressing a press conference. APP

ISLAMABAD, Sept 19 (APP): Minister of State for
Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Ms
Marriyum Aurangzeb revealing the details of a fact finding
inquiry into the drafting of an ordinance to put curbs on the
print media at a press conference here Tuesday said that
Director General of the Internal Publicity Wing of the ministry
Nasir Jamal was solely responsible for whatever transpired
between him and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) and the
consequent drafting of the said law without the knowledge of
the Secretary or herself.
The minister said that the Director intentionally concealed
the facts from the high-ups and presided over two meetings on the
subject in his office and gave instructions for the preparation
of the draft to replace PCP Ordinance, following which three
letters were also issued to the Pakistan Press Council.
She said that the Chairman of PCP in response to
the letters sent out from the ministry had informed Nasir Jamal
that before initiating any amendments in the law the Council
would have to consult its stakeholders which would take some time.
The DG did not even bring that letter into the notice of the
Secretary or the minister.
She said that the willful concealment of facts and an
attempt to drive a wedge between the media and the government was
extremely regrettable and everybody was deploring this act. She
said that the government did not believe in gagging the media.
She said what Nasir Jamal did was an inexcusable act and now
a proper inquiry would be held against him under the
Government Servants Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973 to find
out why he did and what he did.
Explaining the background of the episode, she said that
during a briefing of the Press Council of Pakistan, when she
assumed the charge of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting
and National 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
possibility of merging the office of the Audit Bureau of
Circulation, Press Registrar and Press Council of Pakistan
may be considered to make it a one-window operation for the
media.
The minister said that one of the departments in its working
paper had also corroborated what she had said exactly. No formal
orders were issued for drafting of any legislation or ordinance
to replace the PCP Ordinance 2002, she added.
The minister while quashing some reports suggesting that
the government really wanted to promulgate the new law but
following the reaction of the media had abandoned the idea,
explained that for the enactment of any new law there was a
proper procedure which had to be adopted with all the
relevant developments recorded on the files and approval of
the competent authority sought before seeking the input and
approval of the Ministry of Law. Nothing of the sort happened
in this case, she added.
She urged the media to avoid speculative reporting which
in the end proved embarrassing for the reporter himself and the
institution that he represented.
Marriyum 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. Her responsibility
was also to improve government-press relations which were
only possible through measures designed to strengthen freedom
of expression, she added.
The minister said that the democratic government
of PML-N, which had all along stood for independence of media,
could not think of any curbs on 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
was now 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 taking steps for the institution of
a wage award for the media persons.
All these steps, she asserted, were aimed at facilitating
the media and upholding the freedom of expression.
Responding to a question regarding results of
NA-120, she congratulated the people over the victory, adding that
the people voted for Nawaz Sharif, who pulled the country out
of darkness, checked the scourge of terrorism in its
tracks, initiated health and education programmes and gifted the
nation a mega-project like CPEC. The people rejected
those who during the last four years denigrated the state
institutions, she added.
She said that Nawaz Sharif once again had emerged triumphant.
The minister said that Kulsoom Nawaz had stood against a
dictator and the people of constituency voted for her in
recognition of her leadership qualities.
Marriyum quashed the rumours about catapulting Kulsoom as
Prime Minister or making her the head of the party. She said
that Kulsoom Nawaz would return to the country after her treatment.
Replying another question, the minister said that the statements
given by the Prime Minister and the COAS should be evaluated in
their proper context. There had been a drastic decrease in the
incidents of terrorism which had come down to 160 in 2017 as compared
to 2600 in 2013, she added.
She said that in consonance with the vision of the former Prime
Minister the security forces and other law enforcing agencies had
rendered unparalleled sacrifices in the fight against terrorism
which deserved unqualified accolades of the nation.
Marriyum observed that asking them to do more was unfair.
In regards to a question about the Sharif family appearing before
the Ehtsab courts, the minister said that it would be done in
conformity with the law. She said that Kalsoom Nawaz was in a
critical condition and the entire family was in London.
The minister said that even Marayam Nawaz had to go to London
though she did not want to go at this juncture.
Answering a question about quorum in the
National Assembly she explained that the members were in a state of
shock over the disqualification of their revered leader and they
would soon overcome it. There was no concept of maintaining quorum in
the parliaments of other countries and the members who were away to
their constituencies were also considered present, she added.
Nevertheless she added that it was the responsibility of the members
to attend the sessions of the parliament. It was the last year of the
government therefore the members preferred to be in their constituencies,
she added.
Marriyum said that that way the former Prime Minister had been
disqualified on the basis of ‘Iqama’ was quite questionable.