22 press clubs in Khairpur, four in Karachi, PA told
By Latif Baloch
KARACHI: Figures pertaining to the press clubs in the province stunned many of the legislators present in the Sindh Assembly when the chief minister`s answers to their queries regarding the information department were circulated among them during the question hour session on Friday.
Revenue Minister Jam Mahtab Dahar circulated the printed answers on behalf of Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who holds the portfolio of information.
The most startling fact appeared to be the existence of nearly 200 press clubs – 22 in the chief minister`s hometown, Khairpur, alone as compared to only four in the metropolitan city of 15 million people, Karachi. The small district of Thatta also has as many as 19 press clubs, according to the chief minister, who said press clubs were not registered because they were supposed to be independent bodies.
He informed the house that there were two press clubs in the province`s second biggest city, Hyderabad. The government provided them various facilities to enable journalists to perform their duties in a hassle-free manner.
The figures provided by the chief minister in reply to a question asked by Arif Mustafa Jatoi showed that there were 15 press clubs in Dadu, 13 each in Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar each, 12 in Naushehro Feroz, 10 in Badin, nine in Shahdadkot, eight each in Kandhkot and Jamshoro/Kotri, seven each in Sukkur and Mirpurkhas, six each in Larkana, Jacobabad and Shikarpur, five each in Tharparkar/Mithi, Umerkot and Ghotki, four in Matiari and three each in Tando Mohammad Khan and Tando Allahyar.
Replying to the supplementary question raised by a legislator who said he knew about only one press club existing in Hyderabad, the revenue minister said there were two as far as the record was concerned.
Mr Jatoi wanted to know about the exact location of each of the press clubs. He also asked for details of the month-wise expenditures incurred on advertisements allocated by the government to various publications during the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 as well as the department`s liabilities regarding the unpaid advertisement bills.
The chief minister denied that the government was not paying such bills, explaining that an amount of Rs264,654,166 was payable to various newspapers on account advertisements.
About the criterion for the allocation of advertisements, the house was informed that a publication was treated according to its circulation and category.
The chief minister also provided names of all government-approved publications.
Members were further informed that circulation assessment was a federal subject assigned to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.