LAHORE: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said on Sunday that the government will take action against those Taliban militants who oppose the peace dialogue.
Rashid said there was no “super committee” in addition to the government committee to hold dialogue with the Taliban. Talking to journalists and intellectuals at a moot, titled “Current Situation in the Country and Role of the Media”, he denied a “super committee”, comprising the prime minister, interior minister and an adviser, was working parallel to the government committee constituted to hold talks with the Taliban.
Pervaiz Rashid said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the focal person of the dialogue process. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been briefed on the progress the government committee has made in the dialogue with the Taliban. The briefings, he said, were also attended by the defence minister. Regarding terrorist attacks by the Taliban outfits despite the ongoing talks, the minister said pro-dialogue Taliban had disowned these acts of terrorism.
“Let the dialogue with the Taliban complete,” he said and added that the government would take action against those militants who do not pursue the path of talks and peace. Regarding the airing of foreign content on Pakistani TV channels, Pervaiz Rashid said the PEMRA laws allowed the local channels to air foreign content for 10 percent of the time, while the foreign channels with landing rights could use 100 percent of their time to air foreign content.
The information minister said such channels had misused the PEMRA laws. He invited suggestions from media houses, APNS, PBC, SAFMA, journalists and civil society regarding changes in PEMRA laws on airing foreign content. He 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 the future. Rashid said delay was due to non-verification of the bills by advertising agencies and court rulings in certain cases.
Regarding the non-payment of salaries and unlawful termination of newsmen, the minister said their grievances could be redressed through forums, including courts, government laws and journalist bodies. Responding to the demand for increase in government’s advertisement budget for the print and electronic media, he said it should be raised, and regional newspapers should also get their due share. Regarding lifting of the ban on YouTube, the information minister said it would be lifted soon as a software has been developed to filter the hurtful content.
Earlier, addressing leading journalists, editors, TV anchors and intellectuals, Rashid called upon the media to play its role as the fourth pillar of state for 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 state and impose their opinion and beliefs on others.
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