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Kaira urges SC to take notice of ‘secret fund canard’

September 11, 2012

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Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD, Sept 10: The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira, urged the Supreme Court on Monday to take action against people who had misguided it that his ministry operated secret funds.

Talking to reporters outside the Parliament House, he held “a leader of an opposition party” responsible for the ‘propaganda’, asking him to share evidence with the nation.

Mr Kaira was recalling a claim made by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, that he had documentary evidence the government was using a secret fund to lavish fabulous sums on “certain journalists”.

He said recording of phone was responsibility of secret agencies and the opposition leader should tell the nation to which agency he belonged to.

Mr Kaira said the total budget of the ministry was Rs5.58 billion of which Rs3.4 billion was allocated for Radio Pakistan because it was not a profitable organisation.

He said that Rs250 million had been earmarked for Pakistan Television to install and run boosters in remote areas of the country.

“We have a number of organisations, including the Directorate of Film and Publications (DFP), Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) and Press Information Department (PID) and Rs530 million was allocated for press attachés abroad,” he said.

About the secret fund, Mr Kaira said that Rs100 million was reserved for special publicity and a small amount of Rs12 million kept under the head of secret fund.

“This amount is meant for treatment of ailing journalists, their family members and marriage of journalists’ daughters.”

The minister said he would not disclose the names of journalists being provided financial assistance by the ministry.

Expenses on trips made by journalists invited to the capital from cities and countries were met from this head, he added.

Mr Kaira said that press clubs in several parts of the country were also supported from the fund.

The minister assured the court that record would be produced during the next hearing.

Qamar Zaman Kaira wondered how could billions of rupees be distributed among journalists when the total amount allocated for media was just Rs12 million.

About his foreign tour, the minister said he visited Norway and Spain on the invitation of Pakistani community to attend their annual functions.

He also inaugurated offices of the Oslo-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the General Sales Agent.

About the allegations levelled by the Transparency International over the secret fund, he asked the organisation to clear its position; otherwise, he would take it to court for clearing his position.

He urged the media to “inform the nation that a provincial government has allocated a staggering sum for publicity campaigns”.—APP