Islamabad – According to reliable sources, Prime Minister Imran Khan has advised his media team, spokespersons and key ministers to shape a media debate based on facts.
Sources confirmed that the prime minister wants a radical change in his government’s media policy. One source calls this a “new media policy”. He wants his team to come up with an information based discourse to counter opposition’s repeated allegations on the same points.
According to this new policy, some structural changes will also take place. Ministries will have to appoint key focal persons who will be ready to provide facts from their respective departments to government’s appointed spokespersons and ministers to help them shape a fact based response.
The Prime Minister believes that the party spokespersons should have enough facts on their finger tips so that they can provide an accurate picture to the public while countering opposition’s propaganda. PM and those around him believe that party spokespersons in general have not been able to explain the works and achievements of the government to the public.
There has also been a large bureaucratic reshuffle in Punjab where an efficient team has reportedly been given complete autonomy to work on some areas like education, health, and police
The Prime Minister, acceding to the sources, is of the view that opposition and several segments of media keep on reiterating half facts and conceited stories to the public which are not true. Since media hardly does any homework of its own, it ends up relying on ‘assertions’ made by the opposition politicians. Government is then slammed for inflation, a sudden increase in prices of tomatoes, stagnant economy, low economic growth, job losses and failed Kashmir policy without any real understanding of issues.
Sources told GVS that the Prime Minister has told his spokespersons and key media advisers that such stagnant and often repeated narrative shaped by media and opposition can be countered only if the government side is ready to respond with facts instead of emotionally charged speeches or interviews which have little or no real significance.
PTI playing on the front foot
Over the last one week, PTI’s government has been seen playing at the front foot. In last few days more government ministers and advisers – including Dr. Hafeez Sheikh – have appeared on media with press briefings and talks on different issues.
Govt narrative shaping was helped by the news from Moody’s Investor Services when it reported that Pakistan’s out look was changed from “Negative” to “stable”. Interestingly, at the same time, India’s outlook was changed by the ratings agency from “stable” to “negative. Indian economy for the past few months has been slowing down. Pakistan’s outlook was downgraded to “negative” in the last months of PMLN government.
Bureaucratic reshuffle in the Punjab province as also been helpful to government’s narrative shaping. By and large media reported that an efficient team has been given complete autonomy to work on some areas like education, health, and police.
However media questions if Chief Minister Buzdar will be able to provide effective leadership to this new team. Despite strong and repeated support from the Prime Minster, CM Usman Buzdar has not been able to create a strong image; media, bureaucracy and PTI leaders all continue to express disapproval of his personality.
Punjab government on Monday reappointed Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan as the provincial information minister
Similarly, PTI government was helped by the story that originated from the UK. National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom has agreed on a settlement worth £190 million with Pakistani property tycoon Malik Riaz, and it has been learnt that money will soon be repatriated to Pakistan.
The news went viral across Pakistan and social media celebrated it for several reasons. “The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private-sector employers in Pakistan,” read a statement by the agency. This is now believed to be a huge achievement of the government, because most believe that the payment being made by Malik Riaz Hussain is in fact money being reimbursed by some top politicians.
The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) also confirmed the development, saying that UK’s NCA had “agreed to an out of court settlement […] with a Pakistani family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere”.
However, for some reasons not understood, mainstream TV media totally ignored the NCA story and ministers did not take focus on the development as much as it was expected.
Notably, the Punjab government on Monday reappointed Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan as the provincial information minister. It is pertinent to mention here that Chohan had to resign as the information minister in March over his anti-Hindu remarks. The PTI lawmaker had come under severe criticism after a video of him making the remarks had gone viral on social media.
The premier, according to the sources, is not happy with another key minister who makes unusually sharp comments and snide remarks against religious factions and their leaders. PM does not want to annoy religious lobbies.