Media can uphold national interest: CE -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media can uphold national interest: CE

ISLAMABAD: Chief Executive General Pervaiz Musharraf on Friday said that he was committed to his promise on freedom of press and now the press should fulfil its commitment to national interests by not publishing irresponsible stories.

Talking to a delegation of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) headed by its President Mir Shakil ur Rahman, the Chief Executive said the government would look into the law regarding access to information. He said when the government machinery would be set up within one month, the train will run and it will run fast.

It is not our policy to crackdown against the poor and small loan defaulters. He said the press should indicate us if any Chaudhry or ‘Vadera’ (feudal) was exploiting the poor. We ensure we will take stern action against them, he added.

General Musharraf said he firmly believed in the freedom of press, but certain misinformation, disinformation or irresponsible stories do appear in press, which should be avoided. There should be a system in which such things should be settled. He viewed that he had not seen any thing against national interests in the press of a neighbouring country, but unfortunately statements of foreign leaders are highlighted in Pakistani press. The foreign newspapers do not give such coverage to leaders. There should be no compromise on national interests and if you got a correct reformation, which may harm national interest, it should not be published, he said.

The Chief Executive said: “After Kargil crisis, I believe that media can best be used in upholding the national interests.

Replying to a question, General Musharraf said the government would consider to allow the press an easy access to the official records and the deliberations at the Corps Commanders Conference would also be brought to the notice of the national press. He asked the top representatives of the press to furnish suggestions and ideas to the government. He said: “You can write about me. If you will not write correct things, I will convince you that you are wrong or otherwise you can convince me”. He said the government wanted to set up a monitoring system in this regard and the issue had already been discussed at the Corps Commanders Conference.

He said: “In the light of our discussion, I would think and analyse on the issue of making a media committee which would make a media policy. The representative from newspapers would be included in this committee. He said forget about the past and write whatever you like but always write true after confirmation. Try to accommodate every point of view.”

General Musharraf said the government would review the matter of outstanding payments to newspaper. He directed the Director General ISPR Brigadier Rashid Qureshi to look into the matter and prepare a report in this regard. During the meeting, the Chief of the General Staff, General Muhammad Aziz Khan, DG MI General Ehsan, DG ISPR and Col Saulat were also present.

General Musharraf recalled that whenever military took over in Pakistan, it had totally controlled every thing and made civil administration its subordinate which caused two major setbacks.

The first major damage had been reported that civil administration avoided taking responsibilities and put all blames on the Army. If we allow to run civil institutions, then they themselves would be responsible for their doings. The other damage was that the civil institutions had always come at the same level they were left at the time of impositions of Martial Laws in the past.

Musharraf said he believed that if you want to make institutions stable, you have to do that through civil administration. He said if any SHO or Patwari is wrong, he could be corrected through his own officers. The army should only monitor their conduct and working. He asked the press to help indicate the government, which departments were not working properly. He said if any one try to victimize the press, it should be brought to our notice. He said he has learnt that do not consider your thoughts final. He agreed that judicial reforms should be done. He said the cases will be taken up in the courts only when the Law Minister and the attorney general take seats. He Lauded General Amjad, saying he is a capable and wise person who understands his job well.

He said though people like Usman Farooqi and Asif AB Zardari were not loan defaulters, but they have minted money through unfair means and we are exploring this option. He informed that hundreds of cases were pending before the Ehtesab Bureau. He said it is a ticklish issue how to recover looted money sent abroad.

When he was asked whether the government had so far lodged any FIR against Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf said that they were aware of the situation on this issue and whatever they were doing in this regard was being done after taking the legal experts into confidence. He said he works from eight in the morning to two in the night to steer the country out of crises and how can he concentrate on lodging FIR in such a situation. He said though the Army remains aloof from the people, but he is considering to have a direct contact with the people. He said every one wants to become leader in our country. There should be one leader despite the fact that there were many capable people. He said there could not be so many commanders.

General Musharraf said a meeting of Governors and Ministers was being convened to devise a mechanism of monitoring in which GHQ, Corps headquarters and divisional headquarter be given a role. In such a situation, the GHQ will have close contact with the Chief Executive and Corps headquarters will have contacts with the Governors. This set up would work as ear and eyes of the Chief Executive and the Governors.

He said the government was not in a position to give immediate relief to the people due to economic condition. He said the wrong decisions in the past had bearing on the poor. It will take some time to rectify the situation. He said first they would bring the economy back on track, stabilize it and then ensure relief to the people of Pakistan. For this purpose, agriculture sector must be developed and the decision on wheat are part of this policy. Musharraf said the list of defaulters published in the press is not correct. We have made a list on which we are doing a lot of work as it is not an easy task.

Source: The News