Govt planning to provide financial protection to journalists: Firdous

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ISLAMABAD, May 20 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday said the government would take all steps, including wage board award, protection of jobs in the media industry and grants to press clubs to give a sense of security to the journalist community.

Speaking to newsmen here at the National Press Club (NPC), she said, “We have planned to provide facilities to the journalists.”

She said the payment of government dues to media owners would be linked to the salaries of media workers. Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed payment of even those advertisements which were made to defeat him in the general elections.

Non-payment of advertisements to newspapers were putting journalists out of work and causing financial difficulties for their families, she added.

The special assistant said priorities were being set in consultation with the NPC president to end anxiety among the media workers. Calmness in the ranks of journalists would lead to political and economic stability, she added.

The relevant ministry would be consulted on the issue of health insurance, she said adding plans were being pursued for providing residential facilities to the journalists. “The facilities will be provided in consultation with journalist bodies.”

Firdous said the journalists would have to support the government efforts for ensuring rule of law. Media was the fourth pillar of the state and if it would become weak, it would be detrimental to the state.

She urged the journalist community to play their role in image building of Pakistan.

To a question regarding Maryam Nawaz, Dr Firdous said a convicted woman had chaired a meeting in the Parliament House. Those, who were talking about the supremacy of parliament, had called a meeting at the Parliament House so that the convicted woman could come to its corridors, and that act was blatant mocking of courts, she added.

Maryam, she said, had again put forth the slogan of “respect to vote”. Her (Maryam’s) narrative constantly changed according to the situation and her ultimate narrative was to let the Sharif family go abroad, she added.

Firdous said Shehbaz Sharif with his narrative was sitting abroad while his brother with his narrative was in prison.

She said the PML-N’s narrative was “respect to note (money)” and not “respect to vote”. “The existence of note (money) with them is in danger as NAB is tightening the noose around the fake bank account holders. Fake bank accounts show that they (opposition) only care about ‘respect to note’.”

Dr Firdous said holding protest was the opposition’s right and the government would not stop them from doing it. The opposition parties while in government during the last 10 years, had obtained loans of Rs 31,000 billion and left $ 37 billion trade deficit. The incumbent government had to pay the loan installments, she added.

She said Prime Minister Imran Khan would change destiny of the country and ensure provision of fundamental rights to the masses.

Dr Firdous said the National Accountability Bureau chairman had already revealed in his press conference about those who were seeking NROs (National Reconciliation Ordinances) in different ways.

“The media should hold the opposition as well as the government accountable,” she said.

She said, “We want to move towards reconciliation instead of confrontation.”