Need stressed for bringing all corrupt into accountability net -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Need stressed for bringing all corrupt into accountability net

KARACHI- Speakers at a workshop on ‘Role of Media in Combating Corruption’ demanded of the government to bring all corrupt elements, including those from armed forces, into accountability net.

The workshop was organised by Defence Journal. Prominent columnist Ikram Sehgal spoke of impact of media on overall performance of any country in his remarks. Former president All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) accused the government for the growing menace of corruption in society. He said the government used advertisement as tool to press newspaper owners. “There are some 200 newspapers on APNS list but the government has some 1,000 registered newspapers. One must ask where are these newspapers,” he added.

Contending take-over by army since 1958 as, what he called ‘another face of corruption’, he criticised its interference in the affairs of the country. He maintained that the country was made for the masses and not for the armed forces. He viewed that army officials should also be held accountable along with civilians.

He criticised the government decisions, including support to the US in its war against Afghanistan. “I am not saying journalists are innocent. They also harmed national interest,” he stated and said some of them accepted the government offers and became ministers.

Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lt General Muneer Hafiz said media was an important pillar of any society, and being opinion maker it became more significant than the remaining three pillars. He rejected allegations on government regarding freedom of press and referred to speeches of the participants who held the judiciary and armed forces responsible for corruption. “This is an ample example of press freedom,” he observed.

While acknowledging that NAB made mistakes in its initial days, he asked newsmen to hold themselves accountable. Answering another question he agreed that professional remuneration of low paid government staffers be raised to prevent the menace of corruption. He maintained that domain of the NAB was confined to investigation and prosecution. He reminded the participants that NAB was not the authority to judge or penalise. Regarding any soft approach towards Admiral (retd) Mansoor-ul-Haq, he said the latter was placed in Sihala Jail and not on recommendation of NAB.

Lt Gen Munir strongly denied that measures adopted by NAB effected national economy, shattering the confidence of local investors. He said the Bureau had never been found to have wrongly apprehended the accused and added: “We are not here to harm people. We are their partners and it is our collective duty to prevent loss and harm caused to the country and the countrymen. We do not claim eradication of corruption but promise to deliver.”

Supporting provision for Media Ombudsman he also appreciated speakers representing print and electronic media for candid and honest introspection of media itself.

Criticising the role of NAB, President APNS Hameed Haroon termed it as ‘partial’ as it did not touch institutions like military. He said press in Pakistan itself was ‘not corrupt’, it was the government, which made it corrupt by creating and providing funds through secret funding. Former governments had also established dummy newspapers to use media for their interest, he pointed out and strongly criticised Wage Board Award for workers of newspapers and contended that it was ‘injustice with owners’.

Executive Editor Business Recorder Arshad Zuberi criticised the government for using advertisements as tool to influence newspapers. He recalled that ‘Lifafa Journalism’ had started during the era of Gen Ayub Khan to get news published by paying money. He accused former governments for establishment of secret funds.

Former Governor Balochistan and columnist Lt Gen (retd) F S Lodhi highlighted the importance of free press for civilised society, saying it could help in eliminating violation of human rights. He emphasised the need for better relations between the media and the government.

Senior Journalist Ghazi Salahuddin used the term ‘intellectual corruption’, saying it did not mean only financial corruption. Former governor of Sindh Kamaluddin Azfar called for joint struggle by judiciary and media to combat corruption. He cited a Roman saying: ‘Who would guard the guardians?’

Prominent journalist Kamran Khan maintained that press was not free to highlight corruption in armed forces. President Karachi Press Club, Sabihuddin Ghausi strongly recommended the need for a broad-based ownership of newspapers to eliminate the element of corruption in print media. He said ‘Professional Editor’ mandatory for all newspapers to eliminate the concept of ‘Proprietor- cum-Editor”. Sajjad Mir, Muhammad Najib, Gen Lodhi, Kamal Azfar, Ayaz Amir were among other speakers.

Source: The News
Date:7/7/2002