Government set to pit media squad against judiciary, opposition -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Government set to pit media squad against judiciary, opposition

By: Dilshad Azeem

ISLAMABAD: The PPP-led government is all set to put in place a selected media squad in the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) to counter the independent judiciary and use it against the opposition in the general election.

“Some 70-100 media persons are to be inducted in the Special Grade, Grade 1 and Grade 2, mostly on regular basis rather than contract or temporary basis after a special cell has been established,” officials told The News.

They maintained that interviews and offers were underway to bring persons from various newspapers, electronic media and news agencies despite the fact that an ordinary inductee takes a decade to get a move over in his grade.

“The new inductees will be taken directly in the Special Grade, Grade 1 or Grade 2, and not less than this. However, the newcomers in other sections will be in lower scales,” they said.

The officials said the criterion for the new recruitments would not be the educational qualification but the relevant person being pro-PPP, anti-judiciary and anti-PML-N.

When contacted for a comment, APP Managing Director (MD) Tehseen Rao neither endorsed nor rejected the massive recruitment, including in other sections such as computer, ABC, etc, in financially crippled state-owned organisation.

The APP managing director advised this correspondent to visit his office for having his organisation’s version but he was not available at his first-floor office even after one hour.

Rao, who himself set the timing for his version, appeared to be rude and discourteous as neither he informed in advance that he had some kind of preoccupation nor expressed regret after he returned from somewhere.

“The organisation overburdened with employees, is facing a serious financial crunch as medical bills are pending for serving employees whereas salary is being released later than the previously set dates,” officials said.

A number of senior employees of the print and electronic media organisations, other than the Jang Group, were witnessed around the MD’s office as the sources revealed that the major strength would be enhanced in the capital.

The government, the sources said, plans to use some key news anchors, top-notch journalists of different newspapers and media groups and the official media, to launch an offensive against the judiciary.

A parallel campaign has already been launched on the social media fronts, with pro-government activists, politicians and opinion makers criticising the judiciary and making personal attacks on Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, his family and his fellow judges on Twitter and Facebook.

Special messengers have delivered letters to the “select” candidates for interviews so as to help launch the campaign soon. “The senior journalists have been called without issuance of letters and will be inducted in Special Grade and Grade 1,” the officials said.

The officials said that the new inductees would have hefty salaries, despite the fact that the recruitment was without financial sanction and in violation of all rules and regulations.

The induction of 70-100 people from print and electronic media all over the country in the cash-starved organisation is being made despite a ban on recruitments with the APP already facing a number of court cases such as ‘illegal’ appointments, pilferage of Provident Fund, income tax and violation of rules and regulations.

The News