LAHORE: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Saturday called for joint efforts by all the institutions, especially media, to help implement the National Action Plan (NAP) for elimination of terrorism and extremism.
He was addressing ‘Meet the Editor’ programme held by Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) here at Royal Palm Country Club.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid, Punjab Government Spokesman Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Evacuee Property Trust Board Chairman Siddiq-ul-Farooq, CPNE President Mujeebur Rehman Shami and General Secretary Dr Jabbar Khattak, All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) President Hameed Haroon and a large number of journalists, columnists, intellectuals and writers were present.
The prime minister stressed the need for initiating an operation also against the people and organisations supporting terrorists for which all the institutions, including media, would have to play their due role.
After the failure of dialogue, the government started the operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists, which would continue till the elimination of last terrorist, he resolved. He said Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan were improving.
Nawaz Sharif said media persons should maturely report sensitive issues, including security, supremacy of the Constitution and parliament, and law and order.
He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government was committed to defeat terrorism and extremism, and improve law and order situation, ties with neighbouring countries as well as Pakistan’s image abroad.
Soon after its inception in 2013, the PML-N government had started a comprehensive operation for restoration of durable peace in Karachi, which was now yielding positive results, he added.
Later, responding to questions by journalists, the Prime Minister said the fire incident of Baldia Town factory could not be ignored and perpetrators would be taken to task whatsoever political party they belonged to.
Replying to a question, Nawaz Sharif said the implementation of some measures under the NAP would be implemented shortly while others would show positive results gradually.
He said the foreign hand in terrorism in Pakistan could not be overruled, since there were apprehensions as well as evidences in some of the terror activities and even of proxy war.
To a query, Nawaz Sharif recalled that during his Indian visit to attend Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony, both the countries had decided to restart bilateral dialogue process.
He said during his telephonic conversation, Modi informed him of upcoming visit of Indian Secretary of External Affairs to Pakistan.
“Of course, Pakistan will discuss all the issues, including the Kashmir dispute, in the bilateral dialogue,” he replied to another query.
The Prime Minister said the recent sit-ins had inflicted huge loss to the country as the value of Pak rupee against US dollar was downed by Rs 4 while visits of foreign dignitaries from China, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Maldives were cancelled.
What did the parties holding sit-ins and protest demonstrations want to achieve? he questioned.
He said the supremacy of Constitution, parliament and law of land must be kept as they guaranteed Pakistan’s development and its people’s prosperity.
He called upon media organisations and associations to hold those elements accountable who were partial in coverage of national and constitutional issues.
He said the media organizations should put aside their rating and business for two years and support the government and Parliament in overcoming the issues.
The Prime Minister said setting aside their differences, the entire political leadership and military agreed on the National Action Plan (NAP). The media, therefore, should fully support it, he added.
He said the role of media while covering the sit-ins was not laudable. Only a handful of media outlets questioned as to what was going on while the rest supported the protesting parties, he added.
He said he always advocated free media and his government had never screwed or pressured any media group.
He, however, called upon the CPNE and other media bodies to formulate a comprehensive code of ethics for media coverage and assured the government’s all out support to them.
Nawaz Sharif said the government was playing its role to rid the country of terrorism, extremism and energy crisis, and it would welcome suggestions from media groups / associations the for betterment of people and speedy development of Pakistan.
He said the government had planned to send back the IDPs (internally displaced persons) to their native towns safe and sound.
About the energy shortage, the Prime Minister said the government was working on all available resources, both traditional and alternate ones, for generating additional electricity not only to meet its existing demand but also the future requirements.
He said the government wanted to import gas from Iran, besides focusing on the four-nation Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project, as its adequate quantity would considerably help overcome energy crisis. These mega projects would also ensure speedy development in the region, he observed.
The government, he said, was planning to generate 3,600MW electricity from the LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) till 2017; expediting work on hydel power projects, including 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Project, 425MW Nandipur, and 1,400MW 4th Extension of Tarbella Power House, besides initiating other resources of energy including coal, solar, wind and biomass etc.
Sufficient availability of energy, he said, would definitely help raise industrial growth, increase Pakistan’s exports, alleviate poverty and overcome unemployment.
He also committed to enhance the spending on education sector from two to four percent of the GDP. He, however, added that the government was facing deficit of Rs200 billion as a result of decrease in oil prices.
At the end, the Prime Minister gave away CPNE’s lifetime achievement awards to selected journalists and writers. Council’s President Mujeebur Rehman Shami presented a shield to the Prime Minister.
Nawaz Sharif also announced a grant of Rs 50 million for the CPNE Endowment Fund and entrusted the Federal Information Minister to sort out other issues of the CPNE.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the e-paper Daily Pakistan Global launched by Usman Shami and Umar Shami.