Media asked not to glorify terrorists
PESHAWAR – Information and Broadcasting Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday asked the media to avoid portraying terrorists as heroes of Islam and Pakistan, saying it went against national interests.
Briefing newsmen after an inter-provincial conference of information ministers and officials of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and the Pakistan Television at the press club, he said the tribesmen engaged in confrontation with the army in South Waziristan would face dire consequences.
He said harbouring terrorist groups in the country was a crime which could not be condoned. “We are a part of the international anti-terrorist movement,” he said.
He warned that if someone portrayed terrorist as heroes, he would be tried under the Ant-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2001, which stated: “A person commits an offence if he prints, publishes or disseminates any material, whether by audio or video cassettes or by written, photographic, electronic, digital, wall chalking or any other method, which incites hatred.”
He said it was the duty of the Jalalkhel, a Mehsud sub-tribe, to disarm their rebels, play a role in the early release of Chinese engineers kidnapped from Gomal and ensure that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas remained free of terrorists.
The government was showing flexibility and has offered to givea safe passage to the kidnapers because it wanted to secure the release of the engineers, the said.
He said: “Our gesture should not be taken as our weakness. We want early and safe freedom of the engineers. The government has given too much time to the dissidents and annulled the operation, but the tribal elders have failed to honour their words.”
He said there was a consensus among the information ministers and secretaries of the centre and the four provinces that the newspaper owners should implement the 7th Wage Board Award.
“It is unfair and unjust to deprive journalists and newspaper employees of their right of wages,” Sheikh Rashid said. He said the federal cabinet had formed a committee to facilitate the newspaper owners in implementing the award. He dispelled an impression that the committee had been formed to sideline the issue.
In reply to a question, he said the information ministers had agreed to discourage propagation of material that was aimed at harming national interests. The minister said the conference took note of the issues raised by the provinces about coverage of development activities in their regions by the official media and decided to bridge the technological and manpower gap where required.
The conference, he said, had decided to institutionalize training arrangements for journalists and media officials of the provincial governments at the information service academy.
In response to a question, he denied that Maulana Fazlur Rehman or any other Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal leader had projected the late Nek Mohammad or any other militant as hero of Musilms. He criticized all those who had exchanged pleasantries with and garlanded Nek Mohammad and his associates.