KARACHI: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has announced that Pakistan Railways in alliance with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs is going to rid Karachi of its traffic congestion by shifting the freight train office of Pakistan Railways to the city.
In a press conference held at the Pakistan Railways Freight Transport Company House on Friday, the minister said he was introducing new projects in collaboration with federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi to transport heavy cargo from the ports of Karachi by train.
The press conference was interrupted several times by media persons belonging to the Journalists’ Joint Action Committee, who raised their voice against what they described as the callous attitude of the federal government, especially Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, towards media houses.
During Sheikh Rashid’s press conference journalists protest against government’s attitude towards media houses
The railways minister said that the government was going to release funding for upgrade, renovation, construction and maintenance of railway stations. “We will direct Rs60 million for urgent renovation of the railway stations in Karachi, while Rs70m will be used for up-grade and renovation of the Hyderabad railway station. Meanwhile, Rs80 million will also be used for the construction of a new railway station at Rohri,” he said.
“As of March 23, Pakistan Railways will also be starting two new VVIP trains — Jinnah Express and Sir Syed Express — with very high standards that will be on a par with the best trains of the world,” he said.
“The Jinnah Express will run from Lahore to Karachi, while the Sir Syed Express will run on Rawalpindi-Karachi route,” he added.
The minister was earlier requested to issue a statement in support of the media and to denounce the government’s attitude towards the media houses which included trying to control news and not releasing their dues for the government advertisements already run or published.
After his failure to do so and insisting on holding the press conference only, reporters and cameramen present on the occasion protested and threatened to boycott the press conference completely by staging a walkout.
While trying to grab on to the microphones before him that were being taken away by media personnel, the railways minister warned of not ever holding another press conference in Karachi. The warning soon turned into pleading. “Kisi ko majboor na karein [Don’t try to force someone to say things],” he said, adding that he wanted to share good news about discounts in railways’ tickets. But one member from the media pointed out to him that the discounts made no difference to them as their entire livelihood was being taken away by this government and its information minister.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019