ISLAMABAD: Terming PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s tenure as a dark chapter for media, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Thursday that the media organisations and journalists should recall the anti-media track record of PTI regime before attending his media seminar.
In a statement, she said that the enemy of media should feel ashamed of conducting the media seminar. She termed Imran Khan ‘economic murderer’ of the media. Imran Khan indulged in media enmity while sitting in the prime minister’s chair.
She said that Imran Khan is a liar, corrupt, foreign agent, media enemy and a hypocrite and the media has to decide whether to attend the seminar of a person who used the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as a tool to suppress media freedom.
“The media has to decide whether or not to attend the media seminar of the founder of Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority, which was established by the previous government to control the media.
She urged Imran to stop the farce of the media seminar as during his four-year rule the media voice was muzzled and Mir Shakeel-ur-Rahman was arrested by NAB to weaken the national media.
It was Imran Khan’s tenure when the PTI’s trolls, its rented spokespersons and even the then information minister campaigned against the media, she said, adding Mattiullah Jan was abducted, Absar Alam shot at, Nusrat Javed attacked, malicious drives launched against Asma Shirazi and Ghareeda Farooqi on the social media, and news programmes of Amber Shamsi, Talat Hussain, Dr Danish, Najam Sethi and Hamid Mir were off aired on his (Imran) directives.
“PFUJ, CPNE and PBA will have to decide whether to attend the “media weakening seminar”, the media has to decide whether to go to the media seminar of the persons who strangulated journalism, during whose tenure journalists were fired at and the one who imposed unprecedented restrictions on media.
The minister said that the media will have to decide whether to participate in the seminar of the person who had been given the title of “media predator by international organisations”. The media will have to decide whether to believe the specter of their freedom and job-snapping seminar or not.
CPNE’s 2020 report, International Media Watch and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 reports were testimony to Imran Khan’s media hostility, Marriyum Aurangzeb said. She pointed out that International Media Watch had called Imran Khan a fascist and in four years of Imran Khan’s rule, the ribs of journalists were broken, they were kidnapped, the freedom of the media was crushed and Parliament was locked.
She said that Imran Khan who controlled media through NAB also made media workers jobless.
The media has to decide whether to attend the seminar of the person who had snatched the pen from the journalists, ordered the removal of anchor persons from the screen, she maintained.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said the FIA should arrest Imran Khan like Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders who were apprehended on the basis of mere accusations.
“If the FIA can arrest Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Suleman Shehbaz, Hamza Shehbaz, Ahsan Iqbal, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Miftah Ismail and others on the basis of allegations, why Imran Khan, who used the prohibited funding against the national interests, should be let scotfree,” she said.
Marriyum said a person (Imran Khan), who refused to appear before the FIA in connection with the prohibited funding, should be in jail.
She also asked all those, who had opened fake accounts for receiving the prohibited funding, to appear before the FIA, otherwise, they should be ready for strict action. The prohibited funding case, she said, would be taken to its logical end and all its details would be made public so that the people should know how Imran Khan had misled them through “lies and deception”.
“The probe in the PTI’s prohibited funding is underway and the FIA has unearthed a big account, whose details will be shared with the public today (Friday),” she remarked. The minister said the Election Commission of Pakistan had declared the PTI a foreign-aided party as it used some 351 accounts for receiving the prohibited funding.
She alleged that Imran Khan also used the funds, collected from abroad in the name of Shaukat Khanam Hospital and flood victims, for creating chaos and anarchy in the country. Marriyum regretted that the “trespasser of the constitution” refused to appear before the FIA, contravening his own so-called stance that the powerful should not be above the law.
On the contrary, she added, Nawaz Sharif along with his daughter had regularly appeared before the court when he was the prime minister. The media persons, she stressed, would have to decide whether such a person (Imran) should be supported or invited to a seminar on press freedom.
The minister said Imran Khan had stated that he did not have any fear of the media, but his actions during the four-year rule completely negated his claims. She said Imran Khan did all in his power to oppress his political opponents, including Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif who were kept in death cells and denied medical treatment and hygienic food.
Imran Khan created a hurdle in the grant of parole to Nawaz Sharif when his wife died, while his spokespersons ridiculed the ailment of his wife, she said, recalling how Shahbaz Gill parroted lies when Kalsoom Nawaz was in the hospital.
She said Imran Khan locked up Rana Sanaullah in a small cell where cockroaches and ants were released. Marriyum said Imran Khan blackmailed the then NAB chairman through a video clip to force him to lodge corruption cases against the PMLN leadership. “He used all the state power to prove them (PMLN leaders) corrupt, but not a single evidence could be produced in the court.”
She asked Imran Khan why he had failed to prove the corruption of even a single penny against the PMLN leaders, including Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and others despite having all the powers. “He got closed all the inquiries initiated against him and his party leaders by blackmailing the then NAB chairman, but failed to prove a single case against the PMLN leadership.”
The minister said the nation had to understand how Imran Khan misled the nation on his corruption in different scandals including Malam Jabba, BRT Peshawar and others. She said he did not even spare the Toshakhana, which he had plundered mercilessly and sold its gifts after revising its policy. He even said that he forgot to declare those gifts in his asset declaration statement.
Marriyum said the front person of Imran Khan, Farah Gogi, looted Punjab and took money from the public officials for their transfers and postings, and that too on the whims of the PTI chief.
As regards Shehbaz Gill’s arrest, she said he was nabbed by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police for giving a seditious statement on a private channel. Imran Khan even tried to influence the Inspector General Prisons of Punjab to shift Gill from Adiala Jail to a hospital in Rawalpindi.
He tried to pit the police of one province against the other, she added. She said Imran Khan had stopped building a narrative over the regime change conspiracy as his party had been exposed after hiring the services of a private firm in the United States for its image building.
To a query, she said the FIA was probing the illegal award of the contract to the ARY Sports Channel by the former information minister of PTI.
Meanwhile, Marriyum Aurangzeb took a dig at Imran Khan for cancelling his visit to Karachi yet again due to rain forecast, saying it was the Islamic touch which in fact forbade his visit to the flood-hit areas.
The minister, in a tweet, lashed out at Imran Khan for doing politics at almost everything, including Covid-19, Medina state, accountability, and flood-affected people.
He [Imran] can visit every place of the country to spread chaos and anarchy, but cannot visit the flood-hit areas to meet the affected people because Bushra Bibi has barred him due to ‘Islamic touch,’ she added to his tweet.
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