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Full List:Pakistan SC releases list of journalists paid ‘secretly’ Last Updated : 23 Apr 2013 03:57:11 PM IST Pakistan SC releases list of journalists paid ‘secretly’
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday made public a list of journalists and other persons who received payments of nearly Rs 178 million from the secret fund of the federal Information Ministry.
Some media persons said that the names of big media houses and journalists should have been disclosed. They also criticized issuing names of widows of journalists.
To view the list click here
Pakistani media is opening up for a greater transparency. That the is reason that now there is greater debate within media on how to get rid of what they call black sheeps within their own ranks and files.
The court had sought details of payments from the fund after taking up a petition filed by two journalists seeking the formation of a commission to ensure accountability in the media.
After receiving details, a three-judge bench directed that one list of 282 payments should be posted on the Supreme Court's website.
The list of journalists who were invited by the interior ministry to be part of the junkets covering state visits include professional journalists, analysts, reporters and well-known name in the profession, commonly recognized for being routinely on assignment, including, Saaleh Zaafir, Rana Qaisar, Aamir Ilyas, Imtinan Shahid, Baqir Sajjad, Saadia Afzal, Khushnood Ali Khan, Sohail Akhtar, Khawar Ghumman, Kamran Yousaf, Raja Hussain Khan, Tanveer Qaiser, Jalil Afridi, Faizan Bangash, Asma Chaudhry, Rameeza Nizami, Sherbano Taseer, Arif Nizami, Rauf Klasra, PJ Mir, Jabbar Khattak, Jibran Pasheman, Mujahid Barelvi, Waseem Badami, Farooq Faisal, Khalid Qayyum, Qurban Baloch, Khalid Kayani, Shakeel Anjum, Jamshed Rizwani, Sarmad Bashir, Mumtaz Niazi, Farhan Mulghani, Siddique Baloch, Dodo Chandio, Gauhar Zahid Malik, Hassan Khan, Hasan Akhtar Rizwi and Khalid Farooqui.
The Information Ministry submitted another list of 174 payments worth Rs 86.8 million that it asked the apex court to keep secret.
The bench indicated it would decide whether this list too would be made public after getting the opinion of an official of the Auditor General of Pakistan at the next hearing on April 25.
The list of payments made public contains items that range from the innocuous financial aid provided to widows of journalists ? to controversial, such as huge sums given to reporters for "special assignments".
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, a journalist of the Jang media group who is known to be close to the security establishment,received three payments totalling Rs 500,000 for "special assignments" last year.
The payments from the "Special Publicity Fund" included financial assistance to journalists across the country, hotel bills of persons like officials of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, payments to publishers of books, payment of salaries to research analysts of the Information Ministry, payments for organising media workshops, bills for dinners hosted by the Information Minister and visa fees and travel expenses for journalists accompanying the Prime Minister on foreign trips.
A payment of Rs 37 million was made to an advertisement agency for a media campaign titled 'Benazir Bhutto song' while several payments were made in 2011 for "mobilising" the media to report on the floods in Sindh province.
During the hearing, Justice Jawwad Khwaja said the disbursement of even a single rupee should not be kept secret. Raja Aamir, the lawyer for the Information Ministry, informed the court that a complete audit had not been conducted and the two lists contained payments made since July 2011.
Director Tahir Hussain Khan of the Information Ministry informed the court that funds were also spent on the directives of the Inter-Services Public Relations and Inter-Services Intelligence.Khan said authorities wanted to keep details of articles written against the Taliban secret.
He further said the articles were written under "fake names".He said that after the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, the government spent money on commissioning several articles regarding the incident.
According to rules and regulations, such secret funds can only be used to obtain sensitive information needed to protect Pakistan's national interests and security.
There was no immediate word from most of the journalists and organisations named in the list.However, some journalists said their names had been included in payments made in connection with a foreign visit by the premier though they were not part of the trip.
The Supreme Court began investigating the payments last year.It also froze the Information Ministry's secret fund.
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