ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb has announced that a senior officer from her ministry, acting on his own, attempted to embarrass the government by proposing a Pakistan Print Media Regulatory Authority.

“The fact-finding report has revealed that one person alone was managing the whole affair, and illegally formulated the ordinance to replace the Press Council of Pakistan law,” Ms Aurangzeb said at a press conference at the Press Information Department.

She added that her reputation was saved by the system of government, as the facts had been revealed by records, meetings’ minutes, notes and diary numbers.

“All the letters were issued from the office of Nasir Jamal, the director general of Internal Publicity, which referred to ‘as per the directives of the minister of state’, which is me.”

Ms Aurangzeb added: “But there were no references to the letter numbers issued from my office or the office of the information secretary. Besides, there were no minutes of the meeting where I directed the formulation of such a draconian law.”

She said that laws that tightly regulate the media cannot work in current times, adding that there is a “system of government” and the formulation of all laws require initial approval from the law ministry as well. “There was no such approval from the law ministry over this media regulatory authority,” she said.

Since the fact-finding report has been completed, the minister said she has ordered a fast-track inquiry against the internal publicity director general.

In response to a question on whether forensic evidence would be collected during the fast-track inquiry, she said all the available options and standard procedures would be used.

The minister said the inquiry report would be made public, but did not comment when asked whether any state entity or group was behind the episode or supporting the aforementioned official in formulating the bill.

“It is too early to say anything now; the inquiry report will reveal many things,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb said there are only two laws under consideration in her ministry: the access to information law passed by Senate and currently before the National Assembly, and a draft protection of journalists bill.

She said the information ministry was also working to devise a working formula to implement wage board awards.

Ms Aurangzeb was also asked about the differences between statements issued by the chief of army staff and the prime minister on the United States’ demand that Pakistan do more against terrorism.

The minister said different contexts had resulted in different statements, since both authorities have different roles.

“The army chief has a frontline role to fight terror and the sacrifices rendered by the nation and the armed forces of the country – so the response to ‘do more’ is different from his side, whereas the prime minister is responsible for the future policymaking of the country too, and as acts of terror have declined from 2,600 cases to 160 in one year, the prime minister is responsible [for bringing] this figure to zero so he sees the context of ‘do more’ differently,” she said. –Courtesy Dawn

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