Government functionaries and media experts at a seminar urged the media to play its vital role in salvaging Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) from sectarian violence.
“We all need to come forward to protect the mountainous region from elements hell bent on ruining it,” said G-B Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, while addressing a seminar on “Challenges and Role of media in G-B” organised at Gilgit Press Club on Thursday. He said that the media has a critical role to play in educating the society and strengthening institutions.
Adding on to the governor’s stance, Law Minister Wazir Shakeel said that all was not perfect with the government and that the media should highlight the loopholes in its working and performance. “The government authorities don’t claim to be perfect creatures,” said Shakeel, “but instead of criticising them all the time, the media should also highlight the good work they have done”.
However, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) G-B President Hafizur Rehman came hard at the government, saying that it has “failed miserably” since taking charge of G-B’s affairs. “Correct me if there has been any decrease in corruption and lawlessness in the region in the past three years,” he remarked.
He alleged that posting and appointments in G-B are subject to bribes and nepotism and money is being “ruthlessly spent” on the protocol of ministers. He claimed that the government spends more than 80 per cent budget on non-development activities, including on protocol, while only 20 per cent is spent on development activities. He urged the media to focus on investigative journalism to “unearth the true faces of corruption”.
Adviser to the Prime Minister, Attaullah Shah, said that lack of education is the root cause of bloodshed in G-B. He said that the gulf between two schools of thought has widened after the recent violence in G-B, adding that people from various valleys need to be brought closer to end this menace. In order to ease sectarian tensions and help foster peace in G-B, he urged the media should play the role of the educator.
G-B Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Maulana Abdus Sami hailed the role of media in G-B but said that it should also cover the positive activities of religious leaders.
Presidents of the various press clubs of G-B, including those of Skardu, Ghizer, Astore and Hunza-Nagar valleys, called on the government to settle issues being faced by journalists by constructing press clubs in every district, providing annual grants and implementing wage board awards.
At the end of the seminar, certificates were distributed among leading journalists of G-B.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.