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National

February 22, 2015

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NA panel asks ministry to plan for safety of media persons

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to thrash out a strategy for the protection and safety of media persons.
The committee’s Chairperson Marvi Memon said this while presiding over its meeting here at the Parliament House Friday. She emphasised that if there was a need for funds, these should be reflected in the public sector development programme (PSDP).
The forum also called for inclusion of new projects on the basis of creativity in the next financial year’s uplift programmes and insisted that the details of the same should be presented before the committee in the next meeting. On this occasion, the committee observed that funds for the terror-related projects could be arranged from any other source other than the Ministry of Finance. The committee again proposed establishment of Sufi centres in the four provinces to promote a better image of Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Information Secretary Muhammad Azam said that to ensure participation of masses in the ongoing war against terrorism, the print and electronic media had played a commendable role.
Besides a plan to establish new FM stations, he said, the broadcasting signals would be ensured in the areas where these were presently not being received; and if funds supply was not halted, the project would be completed within two years.
About the proposed construction of a building for the Press Information Department, the secretary said that the project could not be executed so far due to non-availability of enough funds.
The state-run PTV’s MD Mohammad Malick said the government entity was urgently in need of financial support. He added Fata was being ignored for which the government should launch a Pushto channel to get attention of locals there. “A Pushto channel can be handy in the anti-terror war,” he said.
On this, the information secretary contended that a

directive from the prime minister was required for broadcasting in Fata.
Marvi noted that the government was focused on elimination of terrorism from Pakistan, and for broadcasting in Fata, the committee would push the government for the same.
Malick said now full representation was being given to the opposition on the PTV’s current affairs programmes and opposition members were invited in live talk shows, adding that the government could not get more lethal opposition than the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
He pointed out they faced criticism because the expenses of the state-owned TV were too much.
At one point, MNA Talal Chaudhry said that the condition of PTV’s DSNGs was so bad that they were stopped from going to public meetings.
The committee expressed concern over the delay and high cost of the development projects of the ministry. On this, Muhammad Azam claimed that the government wanted timely completion of projects, but paucity of funds was coming in the way.
Marvi contended that the committee was working like a think-tank to bring about improvement in the performance of the ministry. She expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of PNCA and urged it to make new programmes with regards to the menace of terrorism. She noted that despite direction by the committee, Sufi centres could not be established hitherto.

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