PPP again resorts to media bashing to cover up sins -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PPP again resorts to media bashing to cover up sins

By Tahir Hasan Khan & Ahmad Noorani

KARACHI: Top PPP leaders on Sunday accelerated their offensive against a “certain media group” which they alleged was undermining democracy and the PPP government.

Two top media managers, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and PPP Secretary Information Fauzia Wahab, lashed out at the media and announced the new PPP strategy to deal with it.Kaira attacked the media and senior journalists without naming anyone or giving any reason for his outburst. PPP leaders have been criticising the Jang Group, Geo, Dr Shahid Masood and Group Editor of The News Shaheen Sehbai, holding them responsible for destabilising the government.

Addressing the launching ceremony of a press club in Hafizabad on Sunday, Kaira said despite innumerable sacrifices by his party for democracy, a certain section of the media was conspiring against the democratically elected government. He said the journalists writing against the president are those who had raised slogans for the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Kaira said that these journalists “sleep at 11pm with the hope that the government” would be toppled the next day. Referring to Shaheen Sehbai, Kaira said he does not even live in Pakistan and has a US passport. Kiara said he was writing about the ouster of President Zardari and had even given dates for his elimination.

While pointing to Dr Shahid Masood, the information minister said that “this anchorperson” was alright when he was given a job by President Zardari on a salary in lakhs, but after he was removed from his post “he sees everything wrong with the government and the Presidency”.

Kaira, however, did not comment on the corruption charges being levelled against the president. When The News approached presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar for his comments on Kaira’s words, he refused to defend the minister, saying that he was the spokesman for the Presidency and could not comment on what the minister had said. “As far as the Presidency is concerned, President Zardari, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Drawat Dam, had again said that he wants reconciliation,” Babar said.

On the other hand, Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab told a party meeting in Karachi that President Zardari had issued new directives to the party’s district information secretaries to counter the “campaign launched against the president through the media”.

Fauzia asked the district information secretaries to counter the “offensive” as “President Zardari could not personally respond to every piece of criticism”.

Later, addressing a press conference, she spoke out her heart, saying: “Certain journalists and one media group have unnecessarily launched a propaganda campaign against President Zardari”. She said the media group had been against the PPP since 1972 when the party came into power with late Bhutto as the prime minister. “They launched a campaign against the PPP when its workers were being killed during the MRD movement in 80s and “this group had dubbed the political workers killed by police and law-enforcement agencies as dacoits”. They had also launched a propaganda campaign in 1988 and 1993 when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister, she added.

PPP sources told The News that the party’s secretary information had come to the city to convey a message of the PPP’s co-chairman to the district information secretaries to come out in the field and counter the campaign launched against Zardari.

However, insiders said Fauzia had to face strong opposition in the meeting as the information secretaries raised questions about the party’s attitude and its leaders. Some participants of the meeting also questioned the performance of a media cell of the party established in Clifton two months ago. Insiders said Fauzia Wahab promised to provide all facilities to the party workers to counter the campaign against the president.

A PPP leader who attended the meeting told The News that it was a “Wadera cell”, not a media cell, because it was established by a few “Wadera ministers”. It is the brainchild of a top Sindh minister and a businessman had been made its in charge, he added. When contacted, Dr Shahid Masood and Shaheen Sehbai said they would respond to the accusations of the PPP ministers through their programmes and columns.

Source: The News