Govt bribing or helping journalists’ community: CM Shahbaz gifts Rs 25m tax-payers’ money to KPC

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Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif recently gifted Rs 25 million from the public kitty to the Karachi Press Club (KPC) under a well-conceived move to gain media sympathy amid the rising pressure in the wake of Panama case.

The Punjab government gave an annual grant of Rs 5 million to Lahore Press Club, hence payment of such a huge amount to KPC at this time has raised many eyebrows, because the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leadership is known for spending open-heartedly on media persons to gain their undue favours, as it can be assessed from the appointments of many journalists on key posts.

An unusual transaction happened a week before Panama verdict when the Punjab government bestowed upon Karachi Press Club a hefty amount of Rs 25 million, apparently, for the betterment of facilities at country’s biggest press club.

According to the cheque, copy available with Pakistan Today numbered 651733 from Book No 06518, dated April 4, 2017, the Punjab government approved Rs 25 million for Karachi Press Club from Special Drawing Account.

A citizen of Rawalpindi and a student of Arid Agriculture University, Usman Ali said that what people of Punjab have to do with the journalists of KPC? Don’t the ruling PML-N think to utilize these funds for the betterment of the people of Punjab, giving them better education, health or give the scholarship facility to the students of Punjab, he questioned. ‘If they are that much interested to accommodate journalists of Karachi, then why don’t they pay them from their own pockets? He concluded.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a letter to Karachi Press Club president stated, “This amount is a gift from the people of Punjab to the journalists of Karachi” and the Punjab government is pleased to grant this hefty money to KPC’.

Talking to an Islamabad-based journalist Raja Kashif Ishfaq, he said that this did not make sense that the Punjab government was granting that big amount to KPC. “If the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is losing its ground in Karachi and they are accommodating the KPC journalists, then it makes sense,” he said.

It is equivocal that the Punjab government in late 1980’s has fixed the grant of Lahore Press Club, with time to again raise, now the Punjab government granted Rs 5 million only on yearly basis.

While talking, Punjab Information Secretary Raja Jahangir said that the Punjab government gifted this money to bring the journalists’ community of Karachi close.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab government pays KPC for its struggle against dictatorship a week before Panama verdict. CM Shahbaz Sharif appreciated struggle of journalists from Karachi Press Club (KPC) against dictatorship in his letter.

“I am glad to grant this money to KPC – an institution of national importance,” letter said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government gives money to Islamabad Press Club, the Punjab government grants money to Lahore Press Club and the Sindh government gives money to Karachi Press Club every year, so the journalist community would get some kind of subsidy in food and other basic amenities.

But, claiming in a letter that it is a gift from the people of Punjab to the journalists of Karachi (interprovincial) at a time when the people of Punjab are suffering from the issues like health, education, electricity, water and sanitation is quite questionable.

Raja Jahangir said that the Punjab government had granted Rs 25 million for the journalists of Karachi Press Club to bring them close to the people of Punjab. He said that the Punjab government also granted Rs 5 million to Lahore Press Club yearly and Islamabad Press Club too. “Punjab Government also giving laptops to the students of various provinces,” he said.

The Punjab government funded students, schools, colleges and universities of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and there was a special quota for studies. The Punjab government also funded Rs 1 billion for the construction of Institute of Cardiology in Quetta. It also constructed 150-bed hospital in Balochistan, he added.

 

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