Pemra now in a hurry to fill civil society seats -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pemra now in a hurry to fill civil society seats

Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: While Pemra Chairman Mushtaq Malik is on leave and will be back in his office by the end of April, acting Chairman Dr Jabbar in an indecent haste and over-stepping his authority, has recommended to the federal government that seven members for the authority of the Pemra should now be appointed immediately.

These seven members were not being appointed for the last ten months in order to punish Geo and Jang Group during the live telecast of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.All of them are to be taken from the civil society from amongst top professionals in their fields. The term of five such members of the Pemra taken from the civil society was completed on June 17, 2010, but no new members were appointed by the federal government because of the fact that Pakistan’s most popular TV channel Geo Super had taken the exclusive rights to broadcast all the matches of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 on satellite and cable network.

President Asif Ali Zardari had ordered Pemra to teach Jang and Geo Group a lesson by disturbing its World Cup telecast and this was not possible in the presence of independent members in the authority. However, now as the world cup has finished so there was no hurdle in appointing these members but present occupant of the office of Pemra chairman – Dr Jabbar – in indecent haste and without waiting for the return of Mushtaq Malik, chairman Pemra, from leave has recommended 14 people to the federal government to be appointed on seven seats. The authority to appoint rests only with the chairman.

Section 6 of the Pemra Act reads: 6. Members of Authority.- (1) The Authority shall consist of a Chairman and twelve members to be appointed by the President of Pakistan. (2) The Chairman of the Authority shall be an eminent professional of known integrity and competence having substantial experience in media, business, management, finance, economics or law. (3) Out of twelve members one shall be appointed by the Federal Government on full time basis and five shall be eminent citizens chosen to ensure representation of all provinces with expertise in one or more of the following fields: media, law, human rights, and social service. Of the five members from the general public, two members shall be women. (4) Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Secretary, Interior Division, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Chairman, Central Board of Revenue shall be the ex officio members. (4A) The remaining two members shall be appointed by the Federal Government on need basis on the recommendation of the Chairman.

According to this section there are four ex-officio members. They are Ch Qamaruz Zaman, Secretary Interior, Suleman Siddique, FBR Chairman, Taimur Azmat, Secretary Information and Broadcasting, Dr Muhammad Yasin, PTA Chairman.

Whereas Dr Jabbar, Executive Member, is now looking after the chairman’s office, all the issues of the electronic media were being controlled by these five people in last more than ten months and the chairman was sent on leave just 10 days before start of ICC World Cup 2011.

In absence of the chairman, any member elected by the rest of the members can chair the authority meeting. However, during the leave of the chairman, Dr Jabbar tried to chair the meetings but some respectable ex-officio members resisted his illegal move which was aimed only to fix Geo Group on the winks of the Presidency.

The last meeting of the authority took place on January 25, 2011. Since then no meeting could take place despite the fact that agenda of the proposed meeting was circulated more than twice. The Information secretary and PTA chairman once turned up to attend the meeting, but the same later turned out to be an official lunch as other ex-officio members like the interior secretary and FBR chairman did not grace the occasion due to certain reasons.

Dr Jabbar now seems to be in haste in getting complete private members of the authority so as he could fulfil his commitments made with the cable operators during the recent ICC World Cup. Proposed names for members of the authority are as under:

Federal Capital: 1- Mian Muazzam Shah, retired DG Ministry of Population (principal nominee) 2- Muhammad Yousaf Khan, Technocrate/Social Worker (cover candidate).

Punjab: 1- Waris Baig, Singer (principal nominee) 2- Mian Javed-ul-Rehman (cover candidate).

Sindh: 1- Dr Nasrullah Sheikh, Head Deptt of Agha Khan Varsity (principal nominee) 2- Mrs Zeba Hussain Social Worker (cover candidate).

Balochistan: 1- Mrs Zeba Bakhtiyar, TV Artist/Media Manager (principal nominee) 2- Taufeeq Ahmed, ex-Bureaucrat (cover candidate).

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1- Mrs Fareeha Iftikhar, TV Artist/Social Worker (principal nominee) 2- Dr Altafullah Khan, Head Mass Comm Dept, Peshawar University (covering).

Gilgit Baltistan: 1- Nazir Sabi, Social Worker (principal nominee) 2- Rehman Nabi, Businessman/Social Worker (covering).

AJ&K: 1- Israr Ahmed Abbasi, Lawyer/Ex-MLA (principal nominee) 2- Shakir Hussain Shamim, retired Secretary GBT (covering).
Source: The News