QUETTA: The opposition and treasury members of the Balochistan Assembly on Saturday expressed concern over the laying off of journalists and other people who were working for news organisations across the country and said they would move a joint resolution on the issue during the next session.

Journalists staged a walkout from the press gallery of the assembly in the evening when the session began with Deputy Speaker Sardar Babar Khan Musakhail in the chair.

A provincial minister, Mir Asad Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Awami, drew the attention of the house to the walkout and said that media houses had sacked a large number of journalists and other workers.

“It is a matter of great concern because many media persons have become jobless because of the downsizing in their organisations,” he said, adding that 16 people in the province had lost their livelihood.

Syed Fazal Agha of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F said the house should move a joint resolution on the matter soon.

Nasarullah Zeray of the Pakh­tunkhwa Milli Awami Party, on a point of order, said the Balochistan government had stopped issuing advertisements to local newspapers, causing anxiety among editors and publishers of the dailies.

He said he and his colleagues had been protesting against the government’s decision for last many days because it had created serious problems for the newspaper industry.

Provincial Minister for Information and Higher Education Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi said that unfortunately about 70 per cent of the publications in the province getting government advertisements had no circulation and issuing them ads was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“We have listed dummy newspapers and cases have been lodged against them in the National Accountability Bureau. We are going to constitute a committee comprising information department’s officers to check the circulation of newspapers,” said Mr Buledi.

He said that government wanted to promote the local newspapers that were being published since long but could not increase their circulation.

Sanaullah Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal suggested that the government should abolish the information department and divert its budget of Rs900 million to the education and health department.

He said that information department was established in the country to issue official advertisements to newspapers in order to either control the media or use them for own publicity.

Gwadar University draft bill approved

The house also approved the Gwadar University draft bill without any opposition.

Mr Buledi said the draft law had immense importance because after massive investments in Gwadar, a university had become vital for the port city.

“During the previous session, the honourable members didn’t oppose the draft bill. The federal government has allocated Rs1 billion for Gwadar University; therefore we shouldn’t delay it,” Mr Buledi added.

The opposition members said the draft bill about the appointment of a special assistant along with salary and other perks should be presented again in the house for discussion.

However, Mr Musakhail said the assembly approved the bill in the last session, when opposition members had walked out in protest.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018

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