ISLAMABAD – Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that the PTI government would ensure the independence of the media as there is no plan under consideration to impose any sanction on this sector.
He said this while explaining the ruling government’s information policy during a panel interview to The Nation and Nawa-i-Waqt here Friday.
When asked if the government is creating problems and difficulties for the media particularly, the print media, by using advertisements as an instrument, the minister strongly rejected this impression, terming it baseless and unfounded. “Such impression has no ground. There is no truth in it,” he said.
He explained the media groups should not rely on government advertisements only and make comprehensive efforts to explore the private sector in this regard.
He claimed the previous government of PML-N had used government advertisements as “bribes” to gain media favours, which cannot be tolerated in any way. “Our government would hold investigation in this regard,” the information minister asserted and added the government is also considering more initiatives to address the media community’s problems in a better way.
To a question about some media groups’ outstanding dues worth billion of rupees against government, which is a major reason for delay in payment of salaries to media workers, the information minister explained that according to media groups, the government has to pay over Rs 4 billion dues, which is not correct. In fact, he explained, these dues are Rs 1.25 billion only and the government has already given directives for the release of this amount.
When referred to problems and difficulties the media workers are facing, the minister said the PTI government is fully cognizant of their problems and revealed the government is going to issue health cards to all media persons and their families in addition to their health insurance.
To a question as to when the PTI government is going to take initiatives to mitigate the economic sufferings of the general masses, Fawad said the government is weighing various options in this regard.
He claimed the previous government had ruined the country’s economy; circular debts have reached Rs 1,100 billion while the gas sector is facing a deficit of Rs 124 billion.
The country will certainly come out of this crisis and the government is taking gradual steps in this regard, the minister said.
“We are taking the issue of amendments in the finance bill to the parliament. If the government does not amend it, the revival of the country’s economy will not be possible,” he cautioned.
The information minister said the Punjab is rich in resources, but this province has literally bankrupt mainly due to the inexperienced ministers of the PML-N government.
To a question whether the PTI government is planning to amend the CPEC projects, the minister said it is the backbone of the country’s economy. “We are, in fact, expanding the CPEC,” he explained.
He disclosed that in addition to Pakistan and China, now another important country is going to become third member of the CPEC. “We have also invited the US to become part of it,” he added.
To a question whether Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to Saudi Arabia and whether there is any chance of getting their support for the revival of Pakistan’s economy, Fawad confirmed the PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia and said the Saudi leadership would extend support in this regard.
Answering yet another question, the information minister said the PTI government is ready to form a commission to probe the alleged rigging in the general elections.