Gov’t has no intention to curb media freedom: PM

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LAHORE: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday stressed that national interests should be given priority while executing the public welfare projects including hospitals to serve the masses. He was addressing an inauguration ceremony of Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital. The six-storey, 350-bed hospital is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art treatment facilities.

The prime minister praised the owners of the Trust and expressed the hope that the hospital would serve the ailing humanity with world-class treatment facilities. He said the managers of the Trust would not only earn the prayers of the patients, but also earn blessings in the world hereafter.

The prime minister expressed the confidence that the experienced hands in the hospital would run the facility efficiently. The prime minister said they had set up PKLI hospital in Lahore on this model to serve the masses with latest treatment facilities and wanted it to function like John Hopkins health facility. Hepatitis filter centers across Punjab province were set up under its patronage and patients from all over the country came for treatment, he added.

He regretted that dirty politics were played during the rule of the last government. The PML-N government was changed and what happened during the last four years was a painful story, he said, adding that the national wealth belonged to the people. The prime minister referring to the economic constraints said that the government was hardly meeting its expenses. He said 1122 was an initiative of Pervaiz Elhai but he had expanded it throughout the province. The prime minister urged the philanthropists to come forward and execute such public welfare projects across the country.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday reiterated that the government had no intention to put any restriction on freedom of media and expression. Talking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), the prime minister also assured that journalists would be provided with all possible protection against unwarranted actions under the PECA ordinance and other related laws. He said that ministry of law had already been tasked to review the PECA ordinance. Praising the CPNE role for the freedom of media, strengthening of democracy, and evolution of democratic institutions in the country, the prime minister said that the government was keen to engage constructively with the CPNE and other media representative bodies for the protection of the rights of journalists and promotion of responsible journalism in the country. Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday directed the authorities concerned to immediately put in place all the required emergency measures to cope with the situation arising out in the wake of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) from the Shishper Glacier in Gilgit Baltistan.

The directives were issued after damages were caused by the melting of Shishper glacier, gushing forth water in the downstream lake which inundated the surrounding areas.

The prime minister directed for shifting of the affected families and their movable articles to the safe areas and the supply of edible, medicines and other emergency equipment to the affected area.

Expressing his deep grief and sorrow over the losses, the prime minister said that all possible steps would be taken for the rehabilitation of the affected residents.

He also summoned a report over the incident and directed for full assistance to the government of Gilgit Baltistan.

A directive was also issued for the provision of substitute access to the area after the crumbling of Hasan Abad bridge. The prime minister directed for making of estimate regarding disruption of agriculture and potable water system in the area besides, two powerhouses which had also been affected. He directed for immediate restoration of 700MW and 250MW powerhouses on a war footing and said that its expenditures would be borne away by the federal government.

The prime minister also summoned a report regarding damage caused to Karakorum Highway. During the meeting, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Secretary Information Shahera Shahid, Principal Information Officer Mobashir Hasan and other officials were present. CPNE delegation included president Kazim Khan, senior vice president Ayaz Khan, vice president Punjab Irshad Ahmad Arif, secretary-general Aamir Mahmood and other members.

The prime minister said that the government was taking all possible measures to ensure power generation and its supply, so that public woes could be addressed.

The previous government had doubled the country’s debt during the last four years rule which had made the lives of poor miserable, he said, adding that they were making efforts to provide basic necessities of life including flour, health treatment and medicines at subsidized rates.

He regretted that during the previous government’s rule, special arrangements were not made at PKIL like facilities for giving free-of-cost treatment to the poor and deserving patients. The prime minister stressed upon the solidarity of the nation to resolve the current economic challenges for the welfare of the people and said that holding of march, in this situation, amounted to uncalled for and creation of fissures among the nation. He observed that electoral reforms were a must for holding of transparent elections in the country. The prime minister also expressed his resolve to effectively work over the CPEC and Riko Diq projects. He also reaffirmed to maintain ties with all the brotherly nations and other countries on basis of mutual respect and mutual interests.

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