ISLAMABAD -  The Press Information Department (PID) became a scene of bedlam on Thursday after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders were stopped from holding a press conference on the premise in violation of rules of business of the federal government.

The PTI had called the press conference at the PID — an attached department of the Ministry of Information — soon after Minister for Capital Administration and Development Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and his party MNA Danyal Aziz announced a press conference at the same venue.This is the second time in a week that the PTI announced the press conference at the PID — a place where ministers and government officials usually hold press conferences.

Last week, the PTI had moved an application against State Minister for Information Maryium Aurangzeb at the local police station after some of its party lawmakers were barred from holding a press conference at the PID. The government hurriedly called a contingent of police to deal with the possible law and order situation after PTI Secretary Information Naeemul Haq along with PTI lawmaker Murad Saeed and other media team of the party reached the venue.

Under the rules of business of the federal government, ministers, lawmakers of the ruling party and members of the parliament could hold press conferences while using the platform of the information ministry, a senior officer of the information group said.

He made it clear that the opposition was not allowed to hold pressers at the venue. “Under the procedure, any lawmaker including MNAs as well as senators can hold a presser after getting permission from the NA speaker or the Senate chairman respectively,” he said.

“We had talked to the newly appointed Press Information Officer, but unfortunately, we have found the doors of the PID closed,” said Naeemul Haq while talking to reporters outside the PID. “Why former information minister Pervaiz Rashid allowed us to hold a press conference last year if rules did not allow us,” he questioned. Haq demanded of the government to make the Dawn leaks report public. “We want to know through the publication of the report whether or not Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Secretary to the Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad recorded their statements to the inquiry committee formed to identify those who had leaked the sensitive information to the media,” he said.

He alleged that the Prime Minister Office was trying to push the report under the carpet as the PTI still believed that Maryam Nawaz and Fawad Hasan Fawad were behind the leaking of the information. “Three other persons had been made scapegoat in the case.”  Maryam had sent a defamation notice to me after I said that she was behind the Dawn leaks. He said that he still stick to his assertion. He also demanded from the PML-N to make the Model Town incident report public.

“Nawaz Sharif has become a security risk,” Naeemul Haq said adding that the PM’s aggressive defiance to bar an opposition party to use the platform of the PID would not be in the national interest. 

He also criticised Maryam Nawaz for “calling some patriot journalists as anti-state for exposing the names of the Sharif family in Panama leaks.”

He hoped that the Joint Investigation Team under the vigilance of the Supreme Court would complete the investigations against Sharif family in the Panama leaks case and unearth the facts. He expressed his apprehension that the prime minister could affect the JIT proceedings.