National Action Plan: PM seeks media’s help to defeat terror

Urges media outlets to report maturely; says foreign involvement cannot be ruled out in wave of unrest across country

Ali Usman February 15, 2015
A file photo of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday sought to enlist the media’s help for the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism which was conceptualised following the December 16, 2014 carnage at the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 150 students and staff.

“The media should put aside its [quest for] ratings and business for two years and support the government and parliament [for implementation of NAP] so that the country gets rid of the prevailing issues. Regardless of differences all political leadership and the military forged unity on the NAP. The media will also have to fully support it,” the prime minister said while addressing a meeting of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) in Lahore.

He said the CPNE should seriously work for devising a code of ethics for self-accountability of the media. In some instances, he said, Pakistani media was seen as divided on some issues, including Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s martial law and the recent protest sit-ins by two opposition parties.

The prime minister said the media’s role during the sit-ins was not appreciable as only a handful of media outlets questioned what was happening but many of them supported it. During that period, he said, Pakistani currency was devalued by Rs4, visits of foreign dignitaries, including from China, Qatar, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, were cancelled and the country’s image was undermined.

Premier Nawaz said he was a staunch supporter of press freedom - but the media should also avoid criticising the government’s functions unnecessarily, discouraging investment and hurling baseless allegations against the government. He said the CPNE should ponder over how the country could be steered out of terrorism, defeat terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan and eliminate militant outfits operating in the country.

The NAP is a comprehensive plan and it will yield results gradually, he said, adding that work on madrassa reforms was under way. He said Operation Zarb-e-Azb would continue till the last terrorist was eliminated.  Responding to a query, the prime minister said that the foreign secretary level talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan would resume soon. On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Premier Nawaz to inform him that his foreign secretary will visit Islamabad soon.

“When I travelled to [New Delhi] for the swearing-in ceremony of Modi we decided in the meeting that the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet in August [2014]. Later, the meeting was cancelled,” Nawaz added. “Now the Indian PM himself told me that he would send his foreign secretary to Pakistan. All issues will be discussed in the talks.”

The military said on Thursday that India was involved in stoking unrest in Pakistan. In response to a question, the prime minister said foreign involvement in terrorism in Pakistan could not be ruled out. “We have evidence of foreign involvement in Balochistan and then there are also proxy wars at other places.”

Asked about the political set-up in Balochistan, the prime minister confirmed that, according to a written agreement between the National Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the five-year tenure would be equally divided between the two parties.

Interestingly, The Express Tribune had reported in August 2014 that the NP, PML-N and PkMAP had signed a power-sharing deal in 2013 in Murree. Under the deal, NP and PML-N candidates would divide the five-year tenure among themselves. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch is likely to be replaced by Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the provincial president of PML-N, halfway through his tenure.

Talking about Karachi, the prime minister said that since the launch of a targeted operation in 2013, peace was returning to the volatile metropolis and the government would not rest till the city was purged of the scourge of lawlessness.

About the Baldia factory fire, he said that he had received a report on the matter and needed some more information. However, he added that justice would be done against those responsible irrespective of their party affiliation.

Deliberating on the government’s plan to address the chronic energy crisis, Premier Nawaz said his government has decided to allocate Rs100 billion each year under the Public Sector Development Programme to generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity through LNG by 2017. Work is under way on several power projects, including Neelum Jhelum, Nandipur and Guddu, he said and reiterated that his government would end the power crisis during its tenure.

The prime minister also announced Rs50 million for the endowment fund for journalists and distributed lifetime achievement awards among senior newsmen in recognition of their services.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2015.


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