Firdous Ashiq Awan says Zardari interview pulled off air as it violated NAB, parliamentary rules

Published July 3, 2019
Firdous Ashiq Awan says Zardari's interview violates rules of NAB, Pemra and the parliament. — Photo courtesy of DawnNewsTV
Firdous Ashiq Awan says Zardari's interview violates rules of NAB, Pemra and the parliament. — Photo courtesy of DawnNewsTV

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday explained the grounds on which an interview of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was pulled shortly after it started airing on a private news channel on Monday.

The government's spokesperson provided the explanation in response to a question from Senator Ghous Mohammad Khan Niazi in a meeting of the Senate's Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting.

She said that though the issue was not a part of the meeting's agenda, she could explain it in detail.

Awan said that the interview was pulled under Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) rules for three reasons.

"[Firstly], an under-trial suspect who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) can not appear in an interview before cameras in the parliament," she explained.

"[Secondly] the permission of the National Assembly speaker is a prerequisite for bringing in cameras into the parliament," she said, adding that "[Finally], there is a designated spot outside the parliament for media talks [where such interviews should be held]."

"The interview was [therefore] conducted in violation of the rules of parliament," she concluded, adding that Pemra rules too do not allow the broadcasting of an interview of an accused who is under investigation and on remand.

Later, when some journalists asked her why an interview of Taliban terrorist Ehsanullah Ehsan was allowed to air (yet a former president's interview was blocked), she rhetorically asked: "Was Ehsanullah Ehsan an under-trial prisoner under investigation by NAB [when his interview was aired]? Was he on remand? Was he interviewed inside parliament with three [unauthorised] cameras]?"

Character assassination, fake news discussed

Senator Faisal Javed, who was chairing the meeting, rejected a proposal by Senator Rehman Malik to invite Asif Ali Zardari to the committee's next meeting "as a victim of character assassination". Javed said that Zardari is already a member of the parliament and another committee already exists to address the issue.

Malik also raised the issue of fake news and said that relevant laws should be amended to stop fake news. He stressed the need to develop a consensus on measures to curb the menace.

"I am not raising the issue for my party only but for all political parties. A sub-committee of the standing committee should be constituted to compile suggestions," he said.

Awan also shared the concerns of Malik on fake news but said that the government does not want to impose censorship. She agreed that there are apprehensions about fake news and everyone wants a responsible media.

She said that the government had already tasked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to devise a strategy against fake news. She also stressed the need to bring about reforms in Pemra.

Talking about social media, she regretted that "unguided missiles" are fired from social media platforms. She also stressed the need to devise a mechanism to monitor social media.

Opinion

Sub judice rule
18 Sep 2021

Sub judice rule

It is time this objection, sub judice, is laid to rest.
The Black Caps folly
Updated 18 Sep 2021

The Black Caps folly

There is so much wrong — and worrying — about the entire sorry episode of New Zealand backing out of Pakistan tour.
CT NAP revisited
Updated 18 Sep 2021

CT NAP revisited

A policy of appeasement towards extremists has undermined the state’s writ.
Pathways for reform
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Pathways for reform

Even now the government has said they are listening, but they have not said how they are listening.

Editorial

Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...
TTP amnesty?
Updated 17 Sep 2021

TTP amnesty?

An amnesty should be for some individuals, not the entire outfit.
17 Sep 2021

Media regulation

THE needless controversy over media regulation may finally be heading for a resolution. In a meeting with ...
17 Sep 2021

Refusing audit

THE continuous resistance put up by several public-sector organisations to submitting their accounts for audit by ...