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Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Monday said Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed [the government team] to make another contact with the opposition parties on the proposed electoral reforms.

In a tweet, he said Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan would brief [the prime minister] about the main features of the electoral reforms after holding a meeting with the legal team of the opposition parties and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The minister said the attorney general would present a report containing the opposition's suggestions on electoral reforms to the prime minister.

Separately, winding up debate on demands for grants related to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry informed the National Assembly that several “innovative steps” were being taken to improve performance of the state media organisations to represent the national narrative at international level.

Unlike “past practice of state media just projecting the ruling party,” the incumbent government had ensured to use state media as spokesperson of the country, the minister said.

“Today’s world was a world of public opinion, now wars were fought through rhetoric, the more the narrative was accepted, the more victory would be determined. With the use of advanced technology and strengthening the state media with more allocations, we can effectively fight media war against enemies of Pakistan,” the minister said.

He thanked the finance ministry for allocating enough funds to enable state media meet the international standard. He said a plan of refinements was being introduced in the information ministry and its departments to face contemporary challenges.

Fawad said digitisation of official media – including Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and Pakistan Television (PTV) – would be initiated by August this year. He added that the functioning of APP would be on modern lines like any international news agency such as AFP or Reuters.

He said the PTV was being made a complete HD channel having technology and programming of modern era. The minister said: “Pakistan has offered numerous sacrifices in the war against terrorism but past governments failed to articulate its narrative in an effective way through use of media globally. They did not work vociferously to create public opinion.”

Fawad said media was an important tool in the states around the globe to help molding public opinion in their favor. The media could play an important role in promoting the narrative of the states, he added.

The minister said wars in the world were now fought through the victory of one’s narrative. “Ironically, no heed was paid to that aspect in past,” he added.

He added that recently an info-lab was captured through which it was observed that 845 fake websites were running against Pakistan while disseminating wrong news on sensitive subjects like Balochistan, Kashmir etc. “More than 300,000 tweets were shared from India’s city Ahmadabad,” he said.

The information minister alleged that all such events was happened due to weak media policies of the past governments as they did nothing for image building of Pakistan as well as regarding the media tactics of enemies against Pakistan.

Rather focusing on state media promotion, he alleged that former governments remained busy in political appointments in the state media organizations burdening the national exchequer.

He also raised question on the performance of External Publicity Wing, saying that “negligence” of past governments and less allocations was the main reason behind its low performance.

“There is no threat to journalists and using this issue is actually part of international propaganda to defame Pakistan,” he said and requested the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership to pass the Journalists Protection Act pending in the standing committee on Human Rights.

He claimed that journalists’ lives were under threats in the tenure of PPP as 32 journalists lost their lives in 39 attacks in their tenure while in PML-N tenure 14 journalists were killed in 18 attacks. However, in last three years of PTI government, only “eight attempts were made on journalists and all culprits were arrested after thorough investigation.”

He questioned why Sindh government failed to disclose the names of killers involved in journalist Aziz Memon murder. Fawad also asked PML-N’s spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb to apologise on running a campaign related with the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance without confirming the authenticity of news concerned as no such ordinance “ever existed”.

“Fake news mainly generate from three to four different places from India then this fake news after getting boost from Afghanistan reaches Pakistan to meet further targets for petty gains.”

He questioned why the UK media had given high coverage to a protest in front of Pakistan embassy and the interview of an organiser was also given coverage by top London media.

He claimed that all 250 local and 43 foreign channels were working with full freedom in the country. “However there should be unanimity on both sides about all such concerning issues so that we can jointly face the nexus of evil against our motherland,” he added.

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