Govt to hold inquiry into controlling of ‘public funds’ by Maryam: Fawad

Govt to hold inquiry into controlling of ‘public funds’ by Maryam: Fawad

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced to open an inquiry in light of the admission of Pakistan Muslim League-N’s (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz alleging that she directed officials to not give advertisements to a few selected news media organisations.
Fawad’s announcement came after Maryam accepted that an audio clip of her issuing instructions to refuse advertisements to certain TV channels was genuine.
Addressing a press conference flanked by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, he said Maryam doled out Rs 18 billion from national kitty to reward “blue-eyed journalists and media channels” at federal and Punjab levels during PML-N’s last tenure.
“We will share updates of the inquiry with media in the next few days, as well as updates on the action taken in this connection,” he added. Fawad said that initially 15 members were made part of the media cell to run targeted media campaigns and later, Rs 20 million were allocated for additional recruitment.
According to Fawad, Maryam’s statement was a “confession of running the notorious cell and using public funds for this purpose, which was both unethical and illegal”.
“Handling of public funds by a private person is a crime under the jurisdiction of the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency), but also liable of disqualification,” he said while pointing out that Maryam had already been disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. The minister said Maryam’s admission had proved as to how the PML-N carried out ‘systematic manipulation’ of the media during its last tenure. According to him, “the cell was used to reward some channels and punish others, in form of awarding the ads”.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) announced on Wednesday to move court against Maryam Nawaz over the aforementioned matter.
Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb issued a clarification on the matter, saying that Maryam’s statement was related to party advertisements. “It is an old audio in which Maryam Nawaz boldly told the truth,” she explained.
Aurangzeb further said it was the party leadership that decides about the advertisement. “She [Maryam Nawaz] admitted it because there was nothing to hide. When something is not wrong, it is openly admitted.” She added that there was no need to create a storm on this audio clip and the focus should not be diverted from the “real issue”.
The PML-N spokesperson urged the rulers to respond to the alleged leaked audio clip of former chief justice which she said pushed the 220 million people of this country into “the hell of inflation and unemployment”.