• Wonders why ex-PM was sleeping from March 8 to 27 after receiving ‘threat letter’
• Discusses legislation on fake news with media representatives
ISLAMABAD: In a strong reaction to the press talk and announcements made by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb challenged him to initiate his march to the federal capital as there were several unanswered questions that required his response.
“Why was Imran Khan sleeping after the letter came between March 8 and March 27 and did not respond to the serious conspiracy being hatched against his government,” she said while addressing a press conference on Saturday soon after the media talk of Imran Khan.
She said Mr Khan woke up to the so-called conspiracy only after PTI’s coalition partners — including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Balochistan Awami Party, and Balochistan National Party — had left the government.
“Why have you been hiding the diplomatic cable for so many days? Why did you keep meeting the representatives of the country hatching a conspiracy against your government?” she asked.
The information minister said that Imran Khan hid bank accounts from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for years, and now he was levelling serious allegations against the institutions. She added that the ECP was expected to announce a verdict in the PTI foreign funding case soon.
She added that Imran Khan had looted the nation for four years and destroyed the economy. Responding to Mr Khan’s allegations, Ms Aurangzeb said the former prime minister was consistently lying about a conspiracy and he should stop misguiding the nation.
Imran Khan had sold Kashmir, she said and alleged that he kept collecting funds for his political party by using the name of the Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital.
Challenging Mr Khan to initiate the march to Islamabad instead of hurling threats, the minister said there were several questions that the whole nation wanted to know about the wrongdoings of Mr Khan and those around him including Farrah Gujjar.
Responding to a question about putting members of PTI’s former administration on the Exit Control List (ECL), she said PML-N was not like the vicious political victimiser like PTI, which used the Watch List, Stop List and the ECL to persecute political opponents.
Curbing fake news
Earlier, the information minister met a delegation of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the media and it was decided that legislation would be enacted to curb fake news.
The meeting also decided to add a provision to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) law to end fake news, as it had harmed the national interest and had an adverse impact on national cohesion and unity.
Ms Aurangzeb assured the JAC members that the present government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, would not compromise in any way on the right of freedom of expression.
PM Sharif was striving to promote the constitutional and fundamental right of freedom of expression, she added.
Lashing out at the previous government for the media gag, she said only democratic leaders valued and believed in the right of freedom of expression.
She supported the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists’ demand and assured all-out efforts to curb the malicious campaigns against the institutions and media in the name of a foreign conspiracy.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2022