Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Tuesday defended Pakistan Television's (PTV) allocation of sizable airtime to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, saying that doing so was a discretionary right conferred upon her by the federal cabinet.
Aurangzeb's defence of Pakistan Television's programming policy came after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Faisal Javed, who chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Information Broadcasting and National Heritage, commented that the state network is spending millions of rupees on hours-long speeches of a "disqualified" person and his daughter.
"Only one party, one person and his daughter get coverage on PTV," Javed said. "Three-hour-long speeches of a disqualified person and his daughter are broadcast live. Millions of rupees are being spent on such transmissions."
"The only thing lacking is airing of dramas titled 'mujhey kyun nikala (Why was I forced out)' on PTV. Perhaps, they should show Nawaz Sharif on PTV Home and PTV Sports as well," the committee chairman said in an acerbic attack on the information ministry.
"PTV cannot be allowed to run in the manner of a dictatorship," Javed added, asking the ministry of information to explain its news programming.
At this, Aurangzeb came to PTV's defence, saying: "The Cabinet has given me the power to make policy. It is my discretionary right.
"Nawaz Sharif is a national leader; he has been the prime minister three times. If he and Maryam Nawaz speak for even five hours [at a stretch], we will broadcast it live."