KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association have taken exception to a claim made by Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain that media houses have not paid salaries to workers even though the government had cleared almost half of their dues.

The information minister had said in a statement on Wednesday that “half of the $9.6 million (Rs 600 million out of Rs1,300m) has been released to media houses, but they kept all of the money for themselves instead of paying their journalists”.

The APNS and PBA said such statements might create conflict within the media industry. “This is not the first instance that the minister has made disparaging remarks against media houses.”

According to the joint statement, the government owes Rs8 billion, and not Rs 1.3bn as stated by the minister, to the media.

“The government hasn’t released even 10 per cent, let alone half of the total dues,” APNS and PBA added, describing as fictitious the figures given by the minister that the government had already paid Rs600 million, out of an outstanding amount of Rs1,300m, to the media.

The chief justice of Pakistan had called a special meeting to get the issue resolved and asked the federal and provincial governments to clear the dues within 30 days. However, the matter is still pending even after 60 days, the statement said.

The joint statement said not even 10 per cent of the total amount owed by the federal and provincial governments had been paid despite assurances given by Prime Minister Imran Khan to APNS in October.

The APNS and the PBA called upon the prime minister to advise the ministries concerned to honour their commitments to the media and clear the outstanding dues.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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