Govt boosting intelligence net to ensure peaceful polls: Arif Nizami

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Reiterating the interim government’s commitment to hold transparent and timely elections, Federal Information Minister Arif Nizami said the caretaker regime was striving to improve law and order in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through boosting the country’s intelligence network.
He said further the government had decided to increase advertisement quota of the Press Information Department (PID) from 25 percent to 50 percent.
The minister said this while addressing journalists at a luncheon he hosted in their honour at a hotel.
Flanked by APNS President Sarmad Ali and Federal Information Secretary Agha Nadeem, Nizami expressed concern over the recent terrorist attacks on the candidates of secular political parties such as the PPP, ANP and MQM.
The information minister said his government, having entered into 3rd phase of the election process, was fully alive to the concerns of those political parties braving terrorist attacks during election campaign.
He said all organs of the government, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and security agencies were on the same page in their efforts to improve security situation for elections.
The federal minister said focus of the government’s security measures was the politicians and the voters alike.
“It, however, is not an easy job to do, but a daunting task for the interim government,” Nizami added.
The minister said he was also engaged with the interior minister to make hassle-free visa issuance process to foreign journalists who are likely to visit Pakistan to cover the upcoming polls.
He also urged the implementation of ECP’s election code of ethics for media that had a key role in the May 11 polls. Nizami said in a recent meeting at the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) he had proposed to merge all the codes of conduct for the print and electronic media for further improvement. These codes, the minister clarified, were never aimed at restraining the freedom of media.
“We are here in this setup only as facilitators,” he maintained.
Referring to ECP’s recent banning of the election candidates to woe the voters in the name of religion, sect and ethnicity, the information minister stressed upon the journalists, mostly from print media, to be mindful of the commission’s order in their publications.
While Nizami vowed to make “revolutionary changes” in the distribution pattern of government’s advertisements among the newspapers, Federal Information Secretary Agha Nadeem said the government and All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has agreed to increase the advertisement quota of the PID to 50 percent. He hoped that this would make a difference.
The federal minister said efforts were underway to keep only genuine newspapers in the government’s centralized list for advertisements.
To a question, Nadeem said the 8th Wage Board Award would be implemented within next 10 to 15 days as the legal hitches the journalist-friendly award was facing had been removed.
To a question, Nizami said that the government had taken a serious notice of the problems being faced by certain newspapers after publishing the news about some banned organisations. “It is a serious matter and the government has taken a serious note of it,” Nizami said.