Centre rejects Sindh govt’s claims over twin islands

Updated 08 Oct 2020

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Federal Minister for Information and Broad­casting Shibli Faraz speaks at the Karachi Press Club on Oct 7. — APP
Federal Minister for Information and Broad­casting Shibli Faraz speaks at the Karachi Press Club on Oct 7. — APP

KARACHI: The fresh dispute between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government at the Centre and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in Sindh over Islamabad’s move to take over twin islands of Bundal and Buddo through a presidential ordinance does not seem to be ending anytime soon as a key member of the federal cabinet on Wednesday accused the provincial administration of “playing politics” over the issue.

Federal Minister for Information and Broad­casting Shibli Faraz vowed that Prime Minister Imran Khan would do everything that benefited the country and its economy and people.

Mr Faraz, who spent a busy day in Karachi meeting media persons and PTI leaders, brushed aside concerns raised by the Sindh government over what the latter termed Islamabad’s “unconstitutional” move. He ruled out the possibility of any “unconstitutional” move from the federal government and came up with strong criticism of the PPP government.

In the first leg of his daylong engagements, the minister visited Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum where he laid a wreath and offered Fateha before coming up for a brief question-and-answer session with the media.

Shibli predicts failure of opposition’s movement

Without going into details, he categorically rejected the Sindh government’s claim about the twin islands and predicted failure of the anti-government movement the newly-formed opposition alliance is going to launch this month.

“They are actually playing politics on this [twin islands] issue,” he replied to a question about the Sindh government’s claim over the islands off Karachi coast. “The PTI government never makes any unconstitutional move. Our maritime minister Ali Zaidi has already explained things clearly. The PM and his government want to bring economic prosperity in this country. Who would benefit if the economy reactivates due to this project? Of course, the people of Karachi and Sindh. Then why they [Sindh government] are opposing it? It’s all politics. But the [federal] government has resolved to initiate projects of economic and business development and it would pursue this policy.”

He reiterated that the anti-government campaign of the opposition parties was an attempt to cover corruption of a few leaders and predicted that it would not meet with success as the people of Pakistan had tested the opposition parties multiple times and now they knew their hidden agenda well.

“The people have chosen the PTI to bring those who had plundered national wealth to justice,” he replied to a question about government reaction to the opposition move. “The opposition parties have no moral ground to launch the anti-government movement. It’s in fact aimed at saving their corrupt leadership from accountability. The main objective of the opposition leaders behind holding public gatherings is to secure their personal interests. The PPP and PML-N leaders are actually using different tactics to hide their corruption.”

Meetings with media bodies

Later, the minister held back-to-back meetings with the office-bearers of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

Talking to the APNS office-bearers, he said that this was on record that for the first time the government had given advertisements to newspapers through a transparent mechanism.

APNS president Hameed Haroon briefed the minister about the problems of print media, particularly the problems being faced by the Sindhi newspapers.

APNS secretary general Sarmad Ali and other office-bearers also spoke on the occasion.

Shibli Faraz said the journalist fraternity would have to remove non-journalists from their ranks. “Bona fide journalists are being affected due to such elements; therefore, we have to adopt an organised approach to protect the rights of genuine journalists,” he added.

The minister pointed out that there were over 1,500 newspapers, including dummy newspapers, due to which questions were raised on the entire journalist fraternity.

Referring to his meetings with people belonging to the media fraternity, he said all problems pointed out by them could be resolved.

“We intend to establish a system which provides a level-playing field to all. We have to restore the standard and position of journalist fraternity and cooperation of the fraternity in this regard is imperative,” he said.

In the meeting with the PBA leaders, Mr Faraz highlighted the need for a coordinated mechanism to help address genuine grievances of the electronic media. He said regular contact and mutual cooperation could help in efficient handling of issues, ultimately paving the way for a proper solution.

Responding to a presentation by PBA president Shakil Masood, he said it had added to his understanding of the problems being faced by the PBA members and the underlying factors that ought to be mutually addressed.

The information minister reiterated that content being relayed or telecast must be in accordance with social and cultural norms as there would be no compromise in this regard.

He said the global economic situation and prevalent uncertainty had cast an impact on all countries of the world, including Pakistan. The intensity of the situation might differ but this economic meltdown had affected all countries of the world and the business sector was apparently the worst-hit.

He said assured the PBA members that the federal government would look into their genuine problems and come forward with doable interventions for promotion and strengthening of the media industry.

Shibli Faraz also visited the Karachi Press Club where he said the government was developing a mechanism to link the provision of advertisements to media houses with the payment of salaries to their employees.

“The government has paid over Rs1 billion to the media outlets to clear their outstanding dues and tried to ensure that the employees’ salaries are paid from that amount,” he said.

The information minister said that journalism was a noble profession and urged the media workers to get the black sheep out of their ranks.

He announced a donation of Rs2.5 million for the KPC.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2020