Intelligence Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Wednesday it was the public, not the media, that “blacked out” former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
At a press conference in Islamabad, she said no such information was available when she was asked for data on channels that were restricted from covering PTI’s activities by Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
“It’s the Pakistani public that keeps you away from politics,” she added.
The intelligence minister was responding to Imran’s remarks at a workers’ conference in Lahore. In the meantime, he slammed mainstream TV channels for claiming PTI’s press blackout and questioned why advocates of free speech are not opposed to it.
“During my reign, 80% of the programs were against our government. So why are there media blackouts now?” he asked.
In her press release today, Marriyum responded that during PTI’s tenure, journalists were roughed up, shot and imprisoned while their programs were not airing.
“In whose age [new] “Is a media regulatory authority being established, referring to the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA), which was ‘dissolved’ by the coalition government shortly after she came to power?” he asked.
The media house was under financial pressure when it refused to be affected by the violence of the PTI government.
The current government did not believe in censorship, and during the PML-N government, Pemra was always independent.
“You can’t do politics with lies. I’m stunned by the Pakistani people. [because of] your performance.”
‘A general election held on time’
Referring to Imran’s speech at today’s workers’ convention, Aurangzeb likened “repetition” to a cassette, sarcastically saying that the PML-N government could provide a “great speaker” to the former prime minister.
She said Imran had been in power for four years, adding that his party claimed that the PML-N leaders had their wealth hidden abroad, but that there was no money that should have been recovered.
“Why didn’t you prove it? [PML-N leaders’] Corruption? When the DG FIA said they couldn’t handle the case, you (Imran) set up an asset recovery department. Not a single charge has been substantiated and we should be ashamed to level it up again.”
She said money hidden abroad could not be returned by the PTI government because the allegations were false. She added that Imran was still repeating it because her own performance was “zero.”
When asked why Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) asked about funding, she said the former prime minister should have resigned instead of taking office when asked why the PTI had called for an early election.
The election will go on as scheduled, she said. “Imran Khan is afraid of the election, not the performance of Shehbaz Sharif. He knows that sugar has dropped to 70 rupees per kg and people are going from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad Airport with honor (by metro bus) to 27 power plants. The old function works again.
“They (PTI) are shouting the slogan because they know this. [early] election. They know that if this coalition government remains and Shebaz remains prime minister, there will be job security. No one will hear their name, for they fear.”
PTI insisted the elections would go on schedule, she said, only because they were afraid of Shehbaz’s popularity.
Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif had ordered a review of the National Action Plan (NAP) following a suicide bombing yesterday at the University of Karachi that killed four people, including three Chinese.
The Prime Minister has also directed that the National Bureau of Terrorism (Nacta) convene immediately to review the NAP in consultation with the states.
When asked, the intelligence minister said there was no political instability in the country and that the government was working peacefully. He said, “The government is giving happiness to the people who have had the bitter past four years.”
She said the people who spread hate are not in power. She emphasized that the government will ensure Pakistan’s prosperity during the Diamond Jubilee, the country’s founding.