ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill on Thursday dared journalist Asma Shirazi to prove the allegations made by her against First Lady Bushra Bibi in an article published by a foreign channel.
Addressing a news conference, he alleged that the female journalist targeted the First Lady, who is a housewife, to please certain elements. He also wondered as to how a credible news outlet like BBC had published such an article which was tantamount to tarnishing the image of a housewife. He appealed to journalist community and opposition to refrain from promoting dirty politics in Pakistan as it would not serve anyone.
Questioning credibility of Asma Shirazi, he said it was her who remained allegedly involved in taking favours from the government departments. He recalled the way the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) withdrew a notice which was served on her lately. The SAPM said he would contact the FBR and seek clarification as to how the notice was withdrawn.
Shahbaz Gill said the FBR would also be asked to investigate as to how she had made a house in Islamabad’s F-8 Sector. He said the appointment of her brother in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) would also be investigated. He asked as how a journalist could take a favour from the government departments, adding they had no right to oblige her as it violated journalistic norms. The SAPM said writing such an article on a day when the nation was celebrating Eid-Miladun Nabi (SAW) was a “shameful act”.
“With this act, it seemed that there were some elements in the media who did not spare any opportunity to mislead the nation by criticising every act of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said, and appealed to abstain from promoting use of abusive language.
About the reaction against the article on social media, he said those who used derogatory language against Imran Khan and his family would definitely be taken to task by the people. He said the critics have started harping on mantra of magic when they did not find anything to criticise the prime minister which was ridiculous.
Gill maintained that the prime minister was elected by the people of Pakistan and had not come into power through backdoor like his predecessors. Shahbaz Gill, while referring to the PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif, said, "Mian Mafroor (fugitive) has been the ringleader of all mafias, whereas in the past, only mafias under his influence had been given targeted subsidies.”
The prime minister, he said, announced a targeted subsidy plan for the masses due to his empathy and feeling of the poor. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) urged the prime minister to investigate the conduct of Shahbaz Gill and some other leaders who are allegedly involving First Lady in controversial issues, giving the impression of some hidden agenda.
It once again took notice of intimidating, threatening and abusive language against Asma Shirazi by Shahbaz Gill. In a joint statement, the PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi raised a question that when Asma Shirazi has not mentioned the name of the First Lady, then “why official spokesperson for the prime minister is repeatedly mentioning her name online and held a press conference on a non-existent issue?”
They said such a behaviour of PM’s spokesperson reflects the training and mental capacity of a cabinet member who is widening the gulf between government and the media instead of improving their relations.
“Hurling threats, using abusive and uncalled-for language and igniting religious sentiments against a journalist and that too against female will not improve the performance of the government,” they reminded.
The PFUJ leadership, while extending support to Asma Shirazi, said she in her article has not mentioned any name, rather she warns of “worsening economic crisis, price hike and people’s difficulties in meeting their daily expenses”.
Both the leaders said, “It is matter of serious concern that Shahbaz Gill is in the habit of maligning journalists, dictating media personalities on content, and hurling threats in press conferences, talk shows and indulging in online attacks and trolling.”
Meanwhile, five main press clubs of the country have condemned the statement of Shahbaz Gill against Asma Shirazi.
Karachi Press Club President Fazil Jameeli, Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari and National Press Club President Shakeel Anjum said in a joint statement that indecent talk about a female journalist by government representatives is unacceptable. They said the government should not hide its failure by using objectionable language against journalists. They asked Shahbaz Gill to tender an apology otherwise his entry to the press clubs would be banned.
Quetta Press Club President Abdul Khaliq Rind and Peshawar Press Club President M Riaz also condemned an organised campaign launched by the government against Asma Shirazi.
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