September 27, 2008

Pakistan PM Warns Media Over Hotel Blast Coverage

Text of report by Pakistan's AVT Khyber News on 24 September

[Presenter] Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani has come hard on the media in the light of the prevailing security situation in the country and has announced that he will take special measures in this regard. Let us talk to Khyber News bureau chief of news and current affairs programmes, Hassan Khan, about details of PM's statement.

[Presenter] Respected Hassan Khan, we welcome you to our programme. Please give us details of the PM's statement?

[Hassan Khan] Pamir, as you know that PM had arranged an iftar [fast-breaking meal] dinner for media men at the Prime Minister's House today, following which he read his statement. Initially, he hailed the media. However, it could be clearly inferred from the warnings, which he gave to the media during the address, that the Peoples Party's government is not pleased with the role being played by the media. He said overall the media had played a good role in covering the blast at Islamabad's Marriot Hotel blast. However, he said that the role played by a few media organizations was not good and that their reportage was against the national interests. And the words, which he used in English, are "we will take care of it".

Now Pamir, if you see, this means that media will receive guidelines in the future. The PM clearly said in his speech that the media's reporting of the Marriott Hotel blast has damaged the national economy and the media should avoid such type of reporting in the future and not cover events in such a manner. It was a very strange statement and many journalists present there began whispering to each other after hearing it and said that they had been invited by the PM to be dictated on how to cover incidents like the Marriot Hotel blast in the future.

[Presenter] Please tell us did the PM take names of any specific TV channels or media organizations?

[Khan] No, he did not take any names and was mostly pointing out at the electronic media or TV etc. He was speaking about some TV programmes. He knew that he was delivering a very strong statement so he repeated his words thrice or four times and said that a very limited number of media organizations have done such reporting. But Pamir, as PM can not directly say that media has played this or that role; he repeatedly mentioned that a few media organizations did not cover the Marriott Hotel incident as they should have. Although, he said that Pakistan People's Party's slogan was freedom of the press, freedom of the media and journalists, he repeatedly mentioned in his speech that a few or a very limited number [of media organizations had not properly covered the Marriott Hotel blast]. So it is not the matter of a few or many. It can be concluded from his speech or that we [the media men] will have to give surety that media will not give such coverage to such events in the future. So he used the world, national interest, and it reminds me of former President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf's words: "I know what national interests are and what I say will be the national interest? So, now media has to bear in mind the People's Party's view of national interest. This is my opinion on his statement because his statement was very categorical - if you have watched that on TV - that they will ensure so in the future.

[Presenter] Many thanks for giving us details.

Originally published by AVT Khyber TV, Islamabad, in Pashto 1500 24 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.