ISLAMABAD, Oct 17 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday assured the media organizations that the government believed in complete freedom of press and they would be given full liberty in performing of their duties.
The prime minister was talking to a delegation of Pakistan Broadcasters Association, All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Council of Newspapers Editors which called on him at the PM Office.
Members of the delegation informed the prime minister about the problems faced by the newspaper industry and the electronic media.
The prime minister informed the delegation that the country was passing through a critical time as it had been pushed to a quagmire due to misuse of government resources and public money by the past rulers. There is no precedent of such misuse and looting of public money in the past, he added.
He said the present government was struggling to steer the country out of the crisis and put less burden on common man.
He said the country’s debt had risen to Rs 30 trillion while the economy was in shambles, adding that Rs six billion were being paid daily on payment of installments of loans.
He said the past governments did not pay any heed to basic necessities of people where the problems like education, health, human development were sidelined.
Keeping in view the situation, the government initiated austerity drive and first step of the campaign was started from the Prime Minister House while all the ministries were directed to curtail their expenditures, he added.
“I even feel pain while spending just one rupee of the nation, while the past rulers spent millions of rupees from the government exchequer lavishly,” the prime minister said.
He assured the media organizations that the government believed in complete freedom of press, however, he said he felt sorry when he saw the news which were against the country’s interest.
Referring to the appearance of two incorrect and fabricated stories in the media against two ministers, the prime minister said such kind of news stories damaged the country’s interest.
The prime minister said that behavior of the present Opposition was not democratic in any way, as they kept their own interest dearer than the people’s interest.
He said the FIA had unearthed 128 fake accounts where billions of rupees white collar crimes were committed, adding that tracing out white collar crimes was a difficult task.
The prime minister said the opposition was afraid of success of the government.
He said the country’s interest were dearest to him and he would always live in Pakistan, adding that he was fighting the war against corruption not for himself, but for the country and nation.
He expressed his confidence that the steps being taken by the government would improve the situation and the country would be in a take-off stage soon and added foreign remittances had increased.
He said current foreign remittances of the country were around $40 billion out of which only $20 billion were being received through banking channels, which would be enhanced to $30 billion.
The prime minister said that export industry in the past was destroyed while the present government was making it stronger. He expressed the hope that Pakistan’s exports would be increase to $30 billion.
He said money laundering was not blocked in the past while the present government was taking concrete steps to do so. Pakistan is passing thorough a crisis situation and the media have to play their role in getting it out, he added.
He hoped that the odd time would pass soon.
Appreciating the role of media, the prime minister said the government would fully support it, adding that the media today was fully independent as compared to the past. He said the coverage given to the opposition leader on official media had no precedent.
The prime minister said government was formulating a criteria for payment of arrears of advertisements to the print and electronic media.
There is complete transparency in distribution of advertisements, the prime minister said and added that the media had been invited to form a committee to make the process more transparent.
The prime minister asked the media organizations to assist the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in making future criteria in that regard.
The prime minister also announced to abolish the five percent duty imposed on newsprint.
President Council of Newspapers Editors, Arif Nizami said policy of the present government regarding media was based on fairness and non-interference.