Media urged to expose rulers’ ‘exploitative policiesÂ’
KARACHI, May 03 2006: Increasing poverty in Pakistan is a direct outcome of the exploitative policies of rulers, and media should further raise its voice to expose them, said speakers at a seminar here on April 03. The seminar on “media, development and poverty eradication” was organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation, to mark the UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day, at its Vicky Zeitlin Media Library.
Dr Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, chairman, Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance in his address said the main duty of the media was to clear the public perception regarding major issues and also mount pressure on the ruling quarters to adopt people-friendly policies. He said poverty, joblessness and price hike were on a constant rise in Pakistan. He said five factors were responsible for growing poverty: corruption, economic policies dictated by international lending institutes and world powers, feudal mindset, expenditures of rulers, and faulty monetary policies of State Bank of Pakistan.
He was of the opinion that countries like Pakistan were not free to devise policies for welfare of their own people, “but instead they were forced to make policies on the dictation and coercion of international lending institutes and world powers.”
He said dictators on external front were obliged to obey orders of these forceful institutions to save and prolong their rule, while on the internal front they needed patronage and help of powerful class of local feudal lords, tax-thieves and loan defaulters. Dr Siddiqui said in Pakistan taxation system was grossly anti-people and banking system fully exploitative. He said numerous surcharges and heavy sales tax were a cruel burden on poor masses. He said the government was earning Rs 25 per litre of petrol, while the profit margin of oil marketing companies was also excessive. He said massive tax-theft was in vogue, and traders, wholesalers and transporters paid very low taxes.
He said agriculture tax was also negligible. He said some political quarters were making hue and cry against feudal lords, but they had no courage to impose agriculture tax. In this regard, he gave example of Sindh coalition government and said its one partner used to oppose feudalism but they had yet failed to levy the agriculture tax despite it was a provincial subject.
He charged the stock market was the biggest economic scandal of Pakistan. He said a group of a few barons had earned colossal capital gains of Rs3300 billion rupees through the stock market, but the government was not ready to levy capital gain tax on them. He said that the government had zeal and political will to establish its writ in Waziristan and Balochistan, “but it was reluctant to establish its writ in the stock market.”
He said talking about extending tax net for common people but turning a blind eye towards capital gains of stock market showed the transparency of economic policies of the rulers. Founder of Citizens Media Commission Javed Jabbar said journalists of Pakistan were playing a major role for the press freedom. He said it was a fact that Pakistan enjoyed more press freedom than any other of 57 Muslim countries. He gave its credit to the present government.
Sahibuddin Ghauri said a few families were enjoying monopoly over mainstream media of Pakistan. He said these media house owners were mainly interested to maximize their profits. Senior journalist Abdul Hameed Chhapra said charged that corruption was institutionalized in the General Zia era, and this phenomenon had been on the rise with every passing day.