Govt likely to take private journalists on foreign visits
ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government has abandoned the policy that journalists from the private media will not be part of the prime minister’s official entourage on his foreign visits.
In the early months of the PML-N government The News has exclusively reported that the prime minister has decided that no private media journalists will be part of his entourage and only official media people will accompany him during his foreign visits. It was decided that if any private media journalist wanted to cover any foreign visit of the premier, his own organisation would sponsor his/her visit, though some sources claim that even in the past ad agencies were asked to sponsor foreign visits of some journalists.
All senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office have confirmed the change in policy though official spokesman was not available for comments. Irfan Siddiqui, special assistant to the Prime Minister, however showed his ignorance of this latest change in policy.
Top officials of the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed to The News that it has been decided that from now onward private media persons will also accompany the prime minister on foreign visits and an exercise is in progress to finalise the names for the prime minister’s upcoming USA visit. Officials also confirmed that Prime Minister has also approved the names of journalists to accompany him during his Kazakhstan visit starting on August 25. The names are almost the same who used to accompany Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shaukat Aziz, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf during his previous tenure (1997-99.
According to senior officials, some journalists are pressing the government to make private media persons a part of official entourage. In developed countries media houses arrange and facilitate visits of their journalists during foreign visits of heads of the state or governments for proper coverage. However, in Pakistan and in some other developing countries, governments spend taxpayers’ money for this purpose.