ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday took strong exception to the baseless media campaign against the visit of Pakistan Parliamentary delegation to Canada to attend 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference and decided to take up the issue vigorously in its next meeting scheduled next week.
Chaired by its newly elected Chairperson Javeria Zafar Aaheer, the Committee asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to take action against such news channels which launched malicious propaganda against not only the Speaker but the whole Parliament.
The Chairperson of the Committee said that it was the responsibility of media to verify facts before airing or printing the news but in this case, sanctity of the supreme national institution of the Parliament had been violated. “The baseless and fake news about the Speaker and his delegation distorted the image of the Parliament which was against the national interests”, she maintained.
She vowed that action would be taken against those who were involved in intentional character assassination of the legislators under the provisions of law and the Constitution. Additional Secretary National Assembly Shamoon Hashmi said that the CPC was very important. He said that intentionally, some people had tried to make the crucial visit of the delegation controversial. He said that National Assembly Secretariat also issued a press release refuting the allegations against the Speaker NA and his 25-member delegation during visit to Canada.
He said as per rules he was allowed to lead 6 member delegation, but NA delegation comprised only 5 members who stayed in three star hotels not 5 star hotel as claimed in the fake report. He said that on the sideline of the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf had meetings with Member of the Canadian Parliament Salma Zahid and Kaleed Rasheed, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery for Ontario. The two sides discussed a wide array of bilateral relations and especially focusing on enhancing trade, promoting people-to-people contacts, parliamentary diplomacy, addressing the immigration issues faced by the Pakistani applicants and facilitating issuance of visas to the Pakistani students. MP Zahid and Minister Rasheed assured their full support in the matter. The Speaker also highlighted the steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to provide relief to the victims of devastating floods in Pakistan and urged the Pakistani diaspora to come forward to help their Pakistani brethren in this hour of need. Shamoon Hashmi said that provincial assemblies of the member countries were allowed only one member but KP delegation comprised 6 members.
Special Assistant to PM Romina Khursheed Alam said that a section of media tried to malign the Speaker National Assembly and the members of his delegation during visit to Canada which was highly lamentable. She said that Pak delegation made strong interventions during the conference but the media did not mention them. She said she has already moved privilege motion in the House on this matter.
Naz Baloch said that enemy countries use such fake news for tarnishing image of Pakistan in the comity of nations. Secretary Information Shahera Shahid told the meeting that her ministry was bound to issue the rebuttal of the National Assembly Media Cell which it did but it was not its mandate to take action on its own. She said that PEMRA mechanism was complaint based and it would take suitable action on lodging any complaint.
Javeria Aaheer said that it was not the issue of one person but a national institution and the entire nation. She said that the matter would be taken up in next meeting and all responsible for the fake news should also attend the meeting to provide proofs. Later, the Committee discussed the Bill on indecent advertisements moved by MNA Jamaluddin and calling attention notice on increasing obscenity on TV by Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali.
A Sub-Committee headed by Naz Baloch and comprising Zulfiqar Behan, Nadeem Abbas and Kiran Imran Dar was constituted to prepare recommendations on handling the issue. The meeting was attended by MNAs Armaghan Subhani, Zaib Jafar, Maiza Hameed, Naz Baloch, Zulfikar Behan, Kiran Dar, besides Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali and Jamaluddin as the movers. Senior officials of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting were also present in the meeting.