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Probe into interruption in PM’s speech under way

July 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD, July 20: An inquiry is under way into the so-called ‘technical fault’ which caused an interruption during Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s first address to the nation on Saturday.

Officials told Dawn that a four-member committee conducting the probe would submit its report to the prime minister and PTV chairman Dr Shahid Masood on Monday.

Sources in the PTV said that the speech had been interrupted because Information Minister Sherry Rehman, who had earlier visited the PTV’s Islamabad centre, had taken away the printed copy of the speech, and Mr Gilani had to rely an undependable teleprompter, which was being handled at the time by a novice.

The prime minister was supposed to address the nation at 8pm and arrangements for recording the speech had been completed by 11am.

Despite repeated contacts, the Prime Minister’s Secretariat could not give an exact time for the recording and kept telling PTV officials that the speech was being fine-tuned.

According to them, the information minister visited the PTV centre at 4pm along with the prime minister’s media team. “At that time, the chairman was not well and was resting at the PTV headquarters.”

Some PTV officials advised against the prime minister using the teleprompter, but the advice was ignored.

They said the prime minister got confused when many pages were skipped as he used the prompter.

A documentary was broadcasted to cover the interruption and, in the meantime, a copy of the speech was arranged for the prime minister.

The committee includes director news and current affairs Sarwar Munir Rao, director administration Asad Jaspal, director engineering Mujahid Bin Syed and controller of information technology Fakhar Hameed.