ISLAMABAD: As controversy over the appointment of the Pakistan Television’s (PTV) managing director (MD) deepens a letter issued by the Prime Minister Office has come to the fore in which it has curbed powers of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for selecting a person for the lucrative post.
The letter issued a few days ago by the secretary to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mohammad Azam Khan, has authorised the PTV’s board of directors to appoint a regular MD for the state-run television.
According to the letter, directives have been issued for “Constitution of Selection Board for Appointment of Managing Director, Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC)”.
The appointment of Arshad Khan as PTV’s MD as well as the board of directors of the state-run television has been a ‘bone of contention’ between federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq over the past few days.
Mr Hussain is against Arshad Khan’s appointment and has always spoken against him in public. But Mr Haq supports the PTV management and he tweeted last week: “The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Board of PTV and it’s management and believes PTV should be an independent organisation like BBC and the government will take all steps necessary towards that end.”
Mr Hussain responded promptly to Mr Haq’s tweet and in his comments quoted a famous verse of Mirza Ghalib, ‘Bana hai Shah ka musahib phiray hay itrata, wagarna shehar mai Ghalilb ki abro kya hai (His elevation to the king’s adviser has made him arrogant, otherwise he has no value in the town).
Traditionally, information ministers appoint a person of their choice for the post of PTV’s MD through a selection committee.
The information ministry advertised the vacant post of PTV’s managing director on Feb 2 and in response received 42 applications.
It prepared a proposal for constitution of a selection committee for appointment of the PTV’s MD which was endorsed by the Establishment Division and the Ministry of Finance. But the PM Office rejected the proposal and empowered the ‘controversial’ board of the PTV to appoint the MD for the state-run television.
Rejecting the said proposal, the PM’s secretary wrote to the law secretary, finance secretary and Establishment Division, saying that “on consideration of directions of the Supreme Court…regarding appointment of Managing Director, PTVC and keeping in view different statutory/regulatory provisions in the matter, the proposal of information and broadcasting, as endorsed by establishment and finance divisions to constitute a selection board for appointment of MD PTVC…is not tenable as the particular Office Memorandum dated May 05, 1997 relates to the appointments in autonomous bodies/semi autonomous bodies under the federal government.”
The PM Office is of the view that “the subject appointment is processed in a transparent manner by the Board of Directors of PTVC in accordance with the prescribed legal framework”.
Federal Information and Broadcasting Secretary Shafqat Jalil, when contacted, said that the government had explained about the appointment of the PTV’s MD to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the matter is sub judice.
He, however, said that the ministry has advertised the post of PTV’s MD and the said appointment was in process in accordance with the law.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019