ISLAMABAD - National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage yesterday advised the national news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) to project the soft image of the country abroad and counter anti-state propaganda efficiently.

Chairman Committee Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla also stressed the need for further improving its working by equipping the organization with the latest equipment and mode of communication.

During the meeting, Managing Director APP Masood Malik said being a state news agency, APP not only ensures coverage of the government policies but also efficiently covers parliamentary and political activities, taking place across the country.

Executive Director of APP Suhail Ali Khan gave a detailed briefing about the mechanism of the agency’s news gathering in multi languages, its transmission to subscriber’s newspapers, television channels and foreign news agencies. The body was apprised that APP’s existing staff strength was 957 including interns, daily wagers, contractual employees, while its expenditures were Rs 943.412 million for the year 2016 17.

Khan told the committee that APP budgetary grant was Rs 750 million and its income through subscription was Rs 17.500 million, whereas the agency’s current shortfall is Rs 175.912 million and outstanding liabilities are of Rs 273 million.

The committee was also informed about APP’s news exchange agreements with around 35 foreign news agencies.

The body was briefed that APP is planning to launch news service in other important languages besides further augmenting Video News Service (VNS) and building professional capacity of editorial staffers.

The MD APP said the agency is making allout efforts to clear all dues of its employees, adding that it recently paid arrears of 20 percent salary increase, which was pending since 2012.

Answering a query of MNA Murad Saeed, the MD said APP is giving coverage to the government and opposition parties without any bias. However, he added newspapers and media houses publish and cover news items as per their editorial policies.

In reply to a question of MNA Arifa Khalid Parvez, the MD said APP has been effectively tackling the anti state propaganda by engaging Pakistani diplomats and missions abroad.

He made it clear that the process of filling the foreign correspondents posts would be completed soon. Accordingly, a summary for foreign correspondents posting in London, New Delhi and Beijing has been sent to the Prime Minister for approval, he added.

The meeting was attended among others by MNAs Shakir Bashir Awan, Waseem Akhtar Shaikh, Parveen Masood Bhatti, Arifa Khalid Parvez, Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamote, Belum Hasnain, Murad Saeed, Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon, Naeema Kishwer Khan and Malik Muhammad Aamir Dogar, officials of APP and ministry of Information.