Raja sticks to his tirade against media group
LAHORE: Reiterating the stance which he took against a media group on Monday on the floor of the House, PPP’s Raja Riaz said on Tuesday he stood by his assertion.
Substantiating his point, he said an anchor person of the group had done several hundred TV programmes and all of them targeted party co-chairperson and country’s President Asif Ali Zardari, while a columnist of the same group wrote 400 columns of which only one was neutral.
He again called these media persons ‘Indian agents’ working against nascent democracy in the country, adding that they could do no harm to Mr Zardari by resorting to such tactics.
Taking the floor, Ms Azma Zahid Bukhari of the PPP picked the anti-media rhetoric from where senior minister had left it.
Ms Bukhari vented her anger on that entire media group, alleging the “Bajaj Group (of India) owns a good number of shares of the group.”
Speaking on a point of order, she said if the parliamentarians were bound to declare their assets, the media owners and persons should also do the same. The self-proclaimed “star anchors and journalists” who are leading luxurious life must also submit details of their assets, she demanded.
“The journalists who owned nothing more than a motorbike a few years ago, are riding expensive luxury vehicles,” she said. From where these journalists got all these properties, they needed to explain it to the nation, she said, alleging they were destabilising democracy and the elected government at the behest of anti-democratic forces.
“We offered ourselves for accountability from day one but how to pick black sheep in the media and make them accountable,” she wondered. Everyone should be made accountable, be it the judiciary or the media group owners or journalists, she stressed.
“There must be a system to identify who was investing in the media, and for what purposes,” she said, adding it was a matter of utmost seriousness and must be taken as such. “We don’t consider ourselves above the law, and so should be others,” she said.
As if ignited by Ms Bukhari’s rant, Sanaullah Masti Khel (anti-media resolution fame) was also at it again. He wanted the House to Â“take note of misreporting about his degree and being declared a proclaimed offender for not attending the court proceedings.” Declaring respect for the media as an institution, he said certain “unscrupulous elements were bringing bad name to the entire institution, which needed to be preempted.” The chair asked the law minister to probe the matter through a special committee.
Responding to the emotive verbiage of the members, law minister Rana Sanaullah said: “We should pay respect to all institutions including, the media, the judiciary and the parliament because it would be unfair to blame the institutions for few individuals.”
He said law gave right to self-defence to every individual and institutions should not be used for this purpose. “Who stops us from making a law on accountability that can sort things out in a transparent manner? We should not shirk our responsibilities and clear our position in the court of law instead of adding verbal fuel to the fire. The institutions should not be held accountable for individual acts.”
Samina Khawar Hayat of the opposition took the occasion to demand exclusion from the special committee, saying that since she did not have any complaint against the media, she should not be part of any committee on the media.
“My name was included in the committee saying that some important issues have to be thrashed out, but I later realised it was more of an anti-media committee.”