Kaira seeks media suggestions to improve governance
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Saturday that media has every right to criticize the government, as no genuine democracy can flourish without free media but it should also suggest practical steps to the government for resolution of the people’s problems and improvement in governance.
While addressing at the inaugural session of two-day national conference on “Media, Democracy and Good Governance” organized by the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) at a local hotel here today, he said the PPP has always supported and respected media freedom and struggled along with media persons for this purpose. “The PPP as a political force has always sacrificed for media freedom,” he said.
He said since coming to power in 2008, the PPP government has been working for implementation of a code of conduct for media with consultation of the media people but so far it has not succeeded in its efforts.
Kaira said that after taking charge of the ministry in March 2009, he formed a committee of highly respected figures for formation of code of conduct for the media, which will finalize its recommendations soon.
He announced that the government would soon name the Chairman of the Press Council, which can play good role in resolution of media related issues.
He said that Freedom of Information bill has already been tabled in National Assembly, which has referred it to the concerned Standing Committee that would soon consult with all stakeholders for generating consensus.
Kaira said that for ensuring the masses’ access to information the government has set up a databank that will soon be accessible via Internet.
About the formation of Journalist Victim Fund, he said the amount has already been earmarked for this purpose and only modalities for making this fund operational are to be decided in consultation with journalists’ community. There is no delay on part of the government in this regard, he added.
Kaira said the registration of newspaper employees with Employees Old Age Benefit Institute (EOBI) was the offer of the government and all newspaper employees would become its members.
He said it has been often said that the government should link issuance of advertisements with the implementation of Wage Board Award but some legal hurdles were involved in this way.
The minister said that despite the fact that a media house was indulged in mudslinging against the present government, but it has not imposed any curbs on this group. However, as a political party it had right not to respond to its allegations. “That particular house has filed a criminal case against a journalist for what they called false news items and the government could have done the same with this group but it did not do so.”
The minister said that PPP Chairperson Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto adopted the politics of reconciliation, as the country could not afford confrontation.
Kaira said that in October 2007 Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had returned from exile for uniting political forces, despite knowing that her life would be in danger. He also said the PPP leadership accepted NRO only to return home and not for going abroad as a similar deal was done in 2000 for allowing some politicians to go abroad.
Elaborating major achievements of the PPP-led coalition government, Kaira said the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan and the 18th Amendment were prominent steps towards provincial autonomy and to improve living standard of the common man.
About the allegation of taking dictation from the United States, he said the PPP has historically never been among those who take dictation from other countries.
He made it clear that the PPP government may have made mistakes but its intentions were not wrong. He said that after coming to power the present government took unpopular decisions in the larger interest of the country.”
We withdrew subsidies on utilities to save national economy from crisis, which was an unpopular decision but the PPP kept the national interest supreme over its political interests”, he said.
He said the government was trying to introduce reformed general sales tax system in the country, despite the fact that many groups were resisting it.
Regarding implementation of Charter of Democracy (CoD), he said that out of 32 implement able points, 28 have been implemented, which was a great achievement.
About the war on terror, he said that we may have won the battle but there was a long way to go to win the war. Terrorism and extremism is a very complex issue and by disbanding only some terror groups we cannot claim victory.
Source: The News