By Raza Ruman
President Press Club Lahore Azam Chaudhry reportedly lost his job being on a penal of expert on PTV for asking a so-called tough question but question what he was doing in the state run TV which is meant to be pro government.
Express Tribune reported on Tuesday that Azam Chaudhry put a question from Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore asking him about”diminishing space for freedom of speech” and curbs on media in Pakistan.
According to President Lahore Press Club Azam Chaudhry, immediately after the PM’s press conference at Governor House, he was informed that “he was no more with PTV”, and was off-air from a program he was to record from the venue. He further said that nothing has been given to him in writing, thus far.
Ironically, this press conference took place at the Governor’s House, where Finance Minister Ishaq Dar boasted about his government’s media-friendly policy, claiming to allow anyone to attend the press conference. Dar also chided the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for only inviting chosen journalists to their media interactions. However, it appeared that leading journalists from prominent English dailies were excluded from this particular presser.
During the press conference, Chaudary posed a two-part question to the prime minister, addressing the widespread media restrictions in the country. He inquired about the end of these restrictions and when journalists would be granted the freedom to speak and write without constraint.
In response, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his disapproval of curbs on media freedom but deflected responsibility to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb, while acknowledging the need to distinguish between politics and the authority of the state, emphasized that the two should be treated separately.
Azam was called to the Governor House for a program on PTV where he was providing his services as an analyst since September last year (as per his contract), was immediately informed after the press conference that he would not be sitting in the program that was scheduled the same evening.
Azam talking to The Express Tribune claimed that he was informed earlier on the day that PTV would be doing a panel program from the Governor House after the PM’s press conference, where he would also be joined by Sajjad Mir and Salman Ghani. He added that after the press conference, he was “off aired and told that he was no longer with PTV”.
The journalist said that he was part of the pioneer team of the program Ba-Khaber that started airing last year. He added that according to the last communication he had with PTV, he was not with them officially as there was nothing given to him in writing as he was on contract and they were not bound to give him any written intimation.
The entire PTV hierarchy, from his Lahore bosses to PTV’s MD, who is also serving as Additional Information Secretary, to Information Minister Marrium Aurangzeb, all were present at the event.
Head of Current Affairs Lahore PTV Salman Ahmad, when asked to verify Azam’s status with PTV, said he was never a permanent member of PTV and there were weeks when he did not appear even once. When asked why he was off aired on June 29 and if he was still a part of PTV, Salman said the query should be directed to the relevant producer, Express Tribune reported.
But what Azam Chaudhry was doing in PTV. It seems he was toeing the line of the PMLN led coalition government and enjoying good remuneration from PTV. Now he is claiming that he is fired for asking tough question from the PM one should ask him what he was doing in PTV as the government obliges only it’s tout journalists. Has he now shunned this ‘toutrty’ and started what journalism is all about.
On the other hand, Information minister Maryam Aurangzeb denied firing Chaudhry saying he never been a PTV staffer. He was only on a penal of experts at PTV and is still enjoying that position, she said. PAK DESTINY