Govt forms committee to probe Maryam’s disclosures about controlling media ads

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ISLAMABAD – The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has formed a committee to investigate the disclosures made by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz about controlling media advertisements.

The committee will prepare a report about irregularities in the advertisement process and illegal rewards given to favourite journalists during the last tenure of PML-N.

Under the Media Cell headed by Maryam Nawaz, over Rs9.62 billion were spent from the national exchequer.

Responding to PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz’s “confession” of controlling the advertisements of news channels, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said that the government has decided to initiate a “serious inquiry” into the operations of the party’s media cell, being run by the former.

While responding to a question regarding her audio tape about media advertisements during a presser earlier Wednesday, Maryam had admitted that, “I was operating the media cell then, and I haven’t said that it is a fabricated audio clip”.

The information minister, while addressing a presser in Islamabad flanked by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar later in the day, said: “The [PML-N] media cell was responsible for selling advertisements worth Rs15 to Rs18 billion to certain news channels, and different journalists and media groups”.

“We will share updates of the inquiry with media in the next few days, as well as updates on the action taken [in this connection],” he added.

According to Fawad, Maryam’s statement was a “confession of running the notorious cell and using public funds for this purpose, which was both unethical and illegal”.

According to him, “the cell was used to reward some channels and punish others, in form of awarding the ads”. Earlier, the information minister had said in a tweet that this was another confession of serious financial irregularities from Sharif family.

“Maryam says that she was running the media cell of the party… after this confessional statement, I hope she and her family will also acknowledge owning the foreign properties… the nation is waiting,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has issued a clarification on the matter, saying that Maryam’s statement was related to party advertisements. “It is an old audio in which Maryam Nawaz boldly told the truth,” she explained.

Aurangzeb further said it was the party leadership that decides about the advertisement. “She [Maryam Nawaz] admitted it because there was nothing to hide. When something is not wrong, it is openly admitted.”

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