ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday agreed in principle to the demand for upward revision in the tariff (rates) of government advertisements in newspapers, besides, announcing Rs. 50 million grant for the construction of the office building of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) in Karachi.He also announced the provision of a plot for APNS office in Islamabad, as well as resolving the issues pertaining to the outstanding dues and liabilities of government advertisement, with particular reference to the payments of departments and ministries devolved to provinces after the 18th Amendment.The announcements, hailed by the APNS President and all members of the Executive Committee as “unprecedented”, were made by the Prime Minister during his meeting with a delegation of the Executive Committee of APNS led by its President Hameed Haroon here at the PM House on Monday evening.Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Secretary Information Taimur Azmat Usman and senior officials were also present in the meeting.
The Prime Minister, responding to the proposals presented by APNS President Hameed Haroon for further strengthening the newspaper industry in the country, agreed in principle to the revision in rates of public sector advertisements from July 1, 2011. The revised rates would be worked out by the Information Ministry in consultation with APNS, he added.Gilani said the Capital Development Authority (CDA) will allot a plot for APNS at Zero Point, Islamabad. He also announced Rs. 50 million grant, to be disbursed in two installments of Rs. 25 million each, for the construction of APNS office building in Karachi.The Prime Minister said he will visit Karachi for the laying the foundation stone of APNS building in Karachi.With regard to the dues and liabilities of the government advertisements pertaining to the ministries and divisions devolved to provinces after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government will pay and clear such dues.He also agreed to the proposal that outstanding payments of government advertisement worth Rs. 450 million would be cleared through the support of APNS, to ensure transparency.
About the formation of press council, which would facilitate implementation of the code of conduct for print media, the Prime Minister said it would be announced within a month.
Regarding the Freedom of Information Act, the Prime Minister said, it would be finalized after reaching a consensus among the political forces in the parliament.Responding to a question about the agenda proposed by PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif at a press conference last week, Prime Minister Gilani reiterated the government’s resolve to address the challenges faced by the country including poverty, energy crisis, terrorism and extremism etc. by following the policy of reconciliation and taking all political forces on board.Gilani said before talking to Mian Nawaz Sharif and giving a positive response to his agenda points, he talked to leaders of all political parties including ANP, PML-Q, PML-F, MQM, FATA and they were unanimous in addressing the challenges faced by the country.
While responding to a question, the Prime Minister said that listening to the voice of the people and their representation in the Parliament is the strength of democracy. It was within the spirit of reconciliatory policy of the Government, he said, adding, that all the political parties were taken on board on all important national issues. This approach, he added, was adopted in the larger national interest.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said as a high level body of newspaper owners and editors, APNS has played an important and historic role for revival of democracy and freedom of press.The Prime Minister expressed the belief that APNS will continue to play its role in the larger national interest.He reiterated that the government firmly believed in the freedom of press and recognizes its importance and status as the fourth pillar of the state.He pointed out that in the present economic, social and political environment, heavy responsibility lies on all institutions and the media should also play its critical role.The Prime Minister remarked that the country was passing through a critical juncture and it was demand of the time that the nation should make collective efforts to face the prevailing challenges.The biggest challenge facing the nation was the increasing tendencies of extremism and terrorism which should be curbed, he added.Gilani said it is their collective obligation to make efforts against this menace and not highlight the ideology and activities of the extremists.“To confront these challenges, our deep commitment and attention will prove helpful in enhancing dignity of Pakistan in the international community,” he added.He drew attention of the media that when it goes through the process of informing and educating people, then at the same time it should protect rights and dignity of the citizens.
The Prime Minister urged senior and experienced members of the journalist community to help prepare an acceptable code of conduct, which not only protects rights of a free media but safeguards all sections of the society.Both print and electronic media are expected that they will put in place an effective mechanism of self accountability for promotion of peace and integrity in society, he added.He assured that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will take suitable steps to resolve problems of media industry.The Prime Minister urged people to work together for creating a democratic, moderate and progressive Islamic country in line with the principles and objectives set by religion and culture.All the members of the APNS delegation highly applauded the announcements of the Prime Minister as “unprecedented” and hailed his political sagacity.Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira in his brief remarks on the occasion thanked the Prime Minister for accepting and giving due consideration to the APNS proposals.He sought the support of media in weaving the societal fiber, as the country was facing various challenges including extremism. He said the newspapers must verify any reports before publication, as baseless reports create problems for the country and society.APNS President Hameed Haroon in his remarks on the occasion spoke on the problems of media, particularly the problems faced by print media and extended various proposals.
He was appreciative of the Prime Minister’s policy on the freedom of press and media and said no coercive measures were taken against media during the last three years.Secretary General APNS Sarmad Ali while speaking on the occasion thanked the Prime Minister for the announcements and termed these as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘historic’ in the history of APNS.He said the decisions will help strengthen the country’s newspaper industry, which was facing various problems.Other members of the APNS delegation on this occasion also extended their suggestions for promotion and development of media industry in the country particularly print media.They were of the view that the government should also take steps for strengthening and promoting regional newspapers across the country.The Prime Minister on the occasion was also invited to attend the Convention of Regional Newspapers at Lahore.The APNS members hailed the Prime Minister for his reconciliatory and accommodating approach in politics, which they said was vital to not only strengthen democracy but to steer the country out of various challenges – APP