LAHORE - OUR STAFF REPORTER/APP - The government is pondering on ways to counter anti-peace elements and it will soon devise action plan against splinter groups of Taliban carrying out terrorist attacks in violation of ceasefire agreement, said Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed.
Talking to senior journalists and intellectuals at a forum on “Current Situation in the Country and Role of the Media” at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal on Sunday, the minister government was playing its role to deal with the elements attempting to impose their agenda on others at gunpoint.
He said the time for taking action against these splinter groups was not far but “a better decision against those not sitting on negotiation table will be possible at the completion of the ongoing talks process (with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan).”
Pervaiz rejected media reports that a ‘super-committee’, comprising the prime minister, interior minister and an adviser, was functional to oversee and micromanage the talks with the Taliban. “There was no ‘super committee’, besides the already announced government committee,” he remarked.
He however said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the focal person of the dialogue process and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself got briefings on the progress of the government committee on dialogue with the Taliban, which were also attended by the defence minister.
About the ongoing violence by some anti-dialogue elements, he said the TTP has disowned the splinter groups carrying out terrorist activities despite the ceasefire and it has condemned the attacks. He admitted that previously, before the government suspended talks, the TTP was owned and expressed pleasure at all such terrorist activities.
Pervaiz Rasheed said ban on YouTube would be lifted soon as government has developed software for blocking unwanted content. You Tube was blocked in 2012 after its administration refused to comply with a request by Pakistan and some other Muslim countries to remove blasphemous content from the video sharing site.
The minister said the PEMRA laws allowed the local channels to air foreign content of 10 percent of its time, while the foreign channels with landing rights could use 100 percent of their time to air foreign content. He said such channels had misused PEMRA laws and were airing objectionable content.
He invited suggestions from media houses, media representative organisations, journalists and civil society on amending PEMRA laws regarding airing foreign content so the issue could be resolved in a better way. But he assured that no step would be taken to suppress the media or curtail its freedom.
Pervaiz said he had directed the Press Information department (PID) to clear all bills within 30 days of the verification of advertising bills by advertising agencies in future. He said delay was caused by non-verification of the bills by advertising agencies and court rulings in certain cases. Responding to the demand for increase in government’s advertisement budget for the print and electronic media, the federal miniser said it should be raised, and regional newspapers should also get their due share.
Regarding the non-payment of salaries and unlawful termination of mediamen, the minister said their grievances could be redressed through courts, government forums and journalist bodies. In his address, the information minister called upon the media to play its formative role as the fourth pillar of state in the eradication of violence and terrorism from the country.
He stressed that media houses should not highlight the extremist standpoint of those who wanted to create a state within the state and impose their opinion and beliefs on others. He said it was against the interests of the state to highlight nefarious acts of terrorists and keeping them alive through media coverage. He said terrorists believed that only their faith was true and the rest were false.