LAHORE - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Sunday said political careers of former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had ended.

He said one was serving his jail term and other would be following him soon. The minister made it clear that no National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) would be given to anyone. The parties led by Nawaz and Zardari had met their fate due to bad governance in their respective governments during the past 10 years.

Taking part in a panel discussion titled ‘Does Pakistan Need a New Media Model?’ on concluding day of literary festival ‘ThinkFest’ arranged by International Technology University’s Centre for Governance and Policy and later addressing media persons at Alhmara Hall, Fawad said relations between Pakistan and the United States were improving fast.

The minister rejected the statement of former US ambassador Cameron Munter, saying he was not aware of the developments in Washington DC as he had retired long time ago.

"Islamabad and Washington have cordial relations and the recent meetings between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strengthened ties between the two countries," he added.

Payments under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), he said, had been stopped a long time ago.

He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was going to control hate speech. However it would allow freedom of speech through upcoming new Media Regulatory Authority.

The minister reiterated that media should now have to adopt a new economic model wherein it would not be dependent on the government’s advertisements any more. “We {PTI} government is not in a position to sponsor or subsidise media through taking loans. Matter of the fact is if government is sponsoring the media through advertisements then how the media is free or independent to make its own policies?”

He said, “News media must have vested interests in Pakistan economy. All over the world it’s not happening, the way it is going on in Pakistan. Media should decide govt is their savior or client?”

Fawad Ch said dependence of news media must go down. He claimed that print media and electronic media will not be run longer and sustain their authority over the news content as digital media and modern technology will take over it in coming years.

Talking about the censorship in news media, the minister said, “Freedom is subject to limitations and there will be regulations on media and government would not allow any absolute freedom. Wherever freedom of others is compromised or code of conduct of society is not followed, we will regulate it. Only superior ideas will prevail in media at the end,” he said.

Fawad said he was not in favour of ban on Indian content being aired on Pakistani TV channels because no one could restrict the content in new media age, especially in presence of smart phones and fast speed internet. 

He said MQM-London leader Altaf Hussain ordered killings in Pakistan while sitting in UK. He said it was surprising that why UK government did not take action against him. He said perhaps it was not in UK’s favour to arrest Altaf Hussain now.

He said trials of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and other notable figures were conducted in secrecy but those of Sharifs were open to public. “Nawaz Sharif even went to London during his trials, which is quite strange.”

Fawad said PTI government was bringing a new budget on January 23 that will be pro-people budget catering the economic challenges.

“PM Khan is not a believer of giving any NRO,” he responded to question. He said PTI government is working to raise the positive image of Pakistan in the comity of nations. The minister said the tradition of festivals in Punjab will be revived as it was an identity of the province.

Fawad said media was changing globally and current wave of digital disruption was the third disruption following 1960s TV that diminished the dependency on radio. Now third digital disruption all over the world was underway. He claimed content is being shifted to YouTube like forums due to easy availability of digital platforms and now TV screen is increasingly being becoming obsolete. “The reason TV channels are facing serious existential threats because they failed to introduce any innovation in news content. The mantra of news bulletins, talk shows will no longer work. And audience has already lost its charm towards TV,” he said.

He further said government was establishing Media University in accordance with modern media trends to produce skilled workforce. He informed that PCB Cricket channel, which would also telecast other sports and kids channel was being established.

The minister said the government was contemplating to ease visa restrictions for 66 countries in order to promote tourism in the country.

He said, "Prime Minister Imran Khan has a vision to promote tourism in the country. He wants foreigners in large number to visit Pakistan and see its beautiful colours." Pakistan's cultural festivals were a great feast to watch, he added.

To another question, the minister said the Basant festival would take place after finalisation of modalities how to make it accident-free. The government was committed to hold all the festivals, including Mela Chiraghan and Sachal Sarmast Urs, and many others which had since been abandoned, he added.

Responding to a query, Fawad said Pakistan had unfortunately been ruled by a pack of people in the past who were not interested in improving its image. Those rulers robbed the national wealth and filled their coffers, he added.

He said vision of Prime Minister Khan to make the country like that of the 'State of Madina' was not political but social one. He wanted to make Pakistan a state which was tolerant, where freedom of speech was encouraged and justice to all and sundry was ensured.

He said PTI government was not facing any political challenge.

The PTI government was introducing a calendar for country’s mega events.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision expands beyond political arena to encompass social, economic and other sectors,” he said.

“The foundation of a stable and prosperous Pakistan has been laid down.”

Fawad says Saudi Crown Prince’s visit will bolster ties

APP adds: Minister for Information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday spoke over telephone with his Saudi counterpart, Turki Abdullah Al-Shabanah and felicitated him on assuming the new responsibilities. 

Fawad discussed with him the existing close ties between the two countries, said a statement issued here.

He said the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Pakistan would further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries.

He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were brethren countries and the relationship between them was based on mutual respect, cooperation and trust.

The minister said in the days to come new vistas of cooperation would be opened up between the two countries in various fields, including media.