Arshad Khan removed as PTV MD


–Hassan Immad Mohammedi replaces Arshad as MD of state broadcaster

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Television (PTV) Managing Director (MD) Arshad Khan was removed from his post on Thursday and was replaced by Director Admin and Personnel Hassan Immad Mohammedi.

A notice announcing the change was issued on Thursday by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The move was also confirmed by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, who said that this decision had the blessing of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An official told Pakistan Today that the decision had been taken after due diligence to help facilitate the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe allegations of misuse of authority and misappropriation of funds against Arshad.

“The decision also was aimed at ending an ongoing tiff between Arshad and Fawad which was badly affecting the proper functioning of the state television,” the official said.

The official also said that the PTV Employees Union wanted the removal of PTV MD and was being backed by Fawad and the protest had continued for over 45 days which had badly affected PTV.

“The union was so effective that Arshad stopped attending office for the past few weeks. Some senior officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting visited PM Imran last week where Secretary Information Shafqat Jalil requested the prime minister to intervene and resolve the matter at earliest as it was affecting the functioning of the PTV. The prime minister was shocked to know that losses of PTV had surged to Rs5.8 billion which is a major cause for the decision,” the official said.

The official said that the prime minister wanted to appoint Yousaf Baig Mirza as PTV chairman as he is an experienced hand and had served the state broadcaster thrice in the past. The official added that Arshad lobbied against Mirza’s appointment and even managed to withdraw a summary for his appointment from the agenda of the recently held cabinet meeting at the eleventh hour. This proved to be the last straw to break the camel’s back,” the official said.

The official further said that Fawad met the secretary information on Thursday and both decided to remove Arshad after approval from the competent authority.

Arshad’s appointment alongside that of the board of directors had been a cause of dispute between Fawad and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque. Fawad had openly criticised Arshad while Haque had not only defended him in his personal capacity but had said that the management of the state broadcaster enjoys the support of the prime minister.

“The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Board of PTV and its management and believes PTV should be an independent organisation like BBC and the government will take all steps necessary towards that end,” Haque said.

A petition had also been filed against Arshad’s appointment as MD in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The petition contended that Arshad’s appointment not only violated the law but also went against the Supreme Court (SC) judgement in which a certain criterion for appointing an MD was laid down. The petition prayed the court to declare Arshad’s appointment illegal.

On April 1, Fawad and Arshad traded barbs during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights.

While the committee, chaired by Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini, took up the matter of pending salaries and pensions of PTV employees, Fawad lashed out at Arshad and accused him of misuse of authority and funds of the state broadcaster. He alleged that the PTV MD had relations with influential people and he was using his connections to his benefit. The minister also claimed that his subordinate was more powerful than him as he was often found in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Fawad also accused the PTV MD of hiring two of his friends on hefty salaries of Rs3 million. He said that this move was unjustified while the state broadcaster was suffering heavy losses and was undergoing a deficit of Rs5.8 billion. He added that Arshad himself was drawing a hefty salary.

Fawad further said that he had requested the prime minister to fire the PTV MD who had become a hurdle in the smooth functioning of the state broadcaster.

Arshad responded with strong words. He said that he respects the minister and asked him not to twist facts. He said that he had served as the MD of the state broadcaster thrice under various governments. “I am a professional and am only answerable for my job,” he said, adding that he had not issued any directives to stop the flow of salaries and pensions of employees. “The information minister is using the matter to settle personal scores,” he alleged.

He also said that the state broadcaster had to pay the liabilities of various organisations which amounted to Rs6 billion and he was trying to make this payment by June. “The minister cannot fire me. He should clarify why he is targeting me,” he said.