Karachi: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan has highlighted the importance and key role of a vibrant media. She was speaking at a lunch, she hosted for editors at a local hotel on Saturday.
She said media reflects the true perception of the society and conveys to the government and the policy-makers the problems and difficulties of the common man and underprivileged class. She said that the media also has an important role towards the protection and looking after the national interests.
Dr. Firdous also highlighted the role of media towards the cause of democracy and strengthening the democratic institutions.
She said that the present democratic government has completed three years and entered the fourth year now.
The Minister pointed out that from the day one the challenges were the overall external and internal security challenges, economic challenges, challenges pertaining to the war on terror, the challenges of revolving debt of Rs. 400 billion, challenge regarding international economic meltdown, international recession.
She said that the fiscal space within the budget was not enough to take the popular decision.
“A political government which comes to power with the mandate of the masses, would not like to take unpopular decisions and at the same time it would make efforts to provide relief to the masses and facilitate them and ensure their basic rights,” she said.
The Minister pointed out that after the general elections, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) did have simple majority to form the government which was formed with coalition partners.
She said that the vision and philosophy of the PPP leadership need to be given the credit that it got elected its Prime Minister, Chairman Senate and Speaker of the National Assembly unanimously.
Dr. Firdous said that the PPP is a party of the federation and has the mandate in all the provinces.
She said that we desire that concerted efforts be made for the services to the people and all the parties should contribute their bit towards this very goal.
The Minister said that together we passed the 18th amendment, National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, provincial and financial autonomy to the provinces.
The Minister said that for the first time, provinces got financial autonomy in a way that the Federal Government’s share of resources was reduced and the provinces’ share was enhanced. Certain ministries were also devolved, she added.
She stated that President of Pakistan devolved his powers to the Parliament and the Prime Minister.
Dr. Firdous said that when the 19th amendment can be adopted then the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) was not a bigger issue.
She also pointed out that the decisions that the present government took in the national interest benefitted the country.
The Minister said that the political graph fluctuates and that the political people improve such a graph.
She pointed out that the decisions that are being taken with regard to the economy, may not be popular decisions, but are very essential for the national interest.
Dr. Firdous said that the economic challenges demand the timely decisions and that regarding tax reforms the media can play an important role.
She stated that tax can be collected from the privileged class for the benefit of the underprivileged. The parliamentarians should come to the fore as a leading role and the politicians should come forward as trend-setters.
The business and media organizations should also introduce in themselves the concept of accountability, she observed.
The Minister was of the view that the problems we face were due to the approach that instead of self-reliance we banked on reliance on others and that now the time has come that we move towards the self-reliance.
The Minister said that corruption is a major concern of every Pakistani, the civil society and the media and it was endeavour of the government to make the society corruption-free.
She said government was taking serious notice of all alleged irregularities highlighted by the media and at the same time it was taking remedial measures in this regard.
Dr. Firdous said that there is an independent judiciary in the country and added that every institution should work within its respective domain.
The Minister said that media can play its effective role towards fostering the true image perception of the country internationally.
She said that media should exercise its right of the freedom of expression and speech. “Government wants to fully cooperate with the media to frame media friendly policy,” she maintained.
“We want that our partnership be enhanced and strengthened”, Dr. Firdous remarked and added that a strong media would lead towards a better governance and better implementation of policies. The impact of effective policies can reach the masses in a better manner, she observed.
Dr. Firdous further stated that the PEMRA needs to be strengthened and revived as an institution to play the role of a regulator and facilitator and provide an umbrella to engage a responsible media.
She also referred to the media’s concern that major volume of advertisements is taken away by the electronic media and that the share of the print media has reduced and assured that the government was looking into this very issue to ensure judicious distribution of resources.
Regarding the law and order in Karachi, the Information Minister said that the government was taking serious steps to curb the menace of target killings.
“Karachi is economic hub and any unrest in this city has impact all over Pakistan,” she maintained.
Dr. Firdous was of the view that the media could play an effective role to help improve the law and order situation and was of the opinion that it was also the collective responsbility of all sections of the society to extend cooperation to the government in this regard.
Federal Secretary Information, Taimur Azmat Osman, Sindh Information Secretary, Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, Media Coordinator to the Government of Sindh, Taj Haider, were also present on the occasion.