The position for the leadership of Pakistan Television (PTV) appears to be a haunted post. Whereas previous Chairman Attah-ul-Haq Qasmi’s appointment was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, the post for Managing Director (MD) has also geared controversy and has revealed growing tensions amongst certain members of the governing party.

The issue is over who gets to appoint the MD of PTV. The traditional route for selection of PTV’s MD has always been that the Information Minister of the ruling party is empowered to make the selection. Each successive government has facilitated their Information Minister to keep the tradition running, although they are not required by law to do so. Pakistan’s political landscape is drenched in certain informal codes and governments adhere to them purely out of respect. Yet a letter issued by the Prime Minister Office has come to the fore in which it has curbed powers of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for selecting a person for the lucrative post.

The clash between Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq over the matter is creating hurdles in the path of PTV from functioning as an independent body. Viewing the recent developments in light of the inclination towards the appointment of Arshad Khan as the MD of PTV, one must also acknowledge the opinion of the present workforce of PTV. There is an anti-Arshad Khan narrative which will only aggravate if there is no coordination with the Information Minister. Traditionally the Information Ministers have facilitated such a transition which enables them to bring reforms and focus dedicatedly towards the output. This disagreement may impact the work PTV does and that might take away from the effort to reform the mainstream PTV presence.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting demands independence in its work. There is a fair chance that external influences in the process will set the opposite precedent than the goal intended by the government. This is an internal rife in the party which is impacting what is beneficial for PTV as a body. A national television channel which requires a change in its management also necessitates a smooth start which will neither alienate the workforce nor bring in individuals who are disconnected with the workforce and the information ministry. With the introduction of 64 new channels being planned, the reforms in PTV need to be apt and well thought out for the channel to sustain itself.