Soomro offers Mir Shakil help to resolve crisis

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Elahi Bukhsh Soomro, while deploring the ongoing confrontation between the government and the Jang Group, has said that it should be diffused immediately.

He tried to get in touch with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday afternoon but was unable to do so as Nawaz was in Lahore. Later, Soomro spoke to Law Minister Khalid Anwer and implored him to find a way out of the present policies of the government which were now bent upon seeing that the Jang Group stopped publication altogether.

Speaking to Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman in his parliamentary chambers, Soomro said, "I have seen you grow up as a boy and I knew your father very well. I have received your letter and am glad that you have come to see me." Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman was accompanied by PFUJ President Abdul Hameed Chhapra, who also explained to the Speaker the systematic manner in which the Jang Group was being strangulated.

Soomro said that he was impressed by the endurance of the Jang Group which had put up with State pressure for one-year. "Please tell me how I can be of help and I will not hesitate because the entire system is being hurt. It is remarkable that they go on hurting you and you remain patient. Now you have given me a case which I can move."

Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman explained that he always adhered to a policy in which there would be no confrontation. "I am myself surprised at the position that I have landed in by taking a principled position. We did nothing. The key is with the government. Our television channel was about to be launched when suddenly the government started taking us on. All we were doing was publishing the truth. But the government wanted to barter with us which was something I could not agree to. We are pleading with them to come into the open and have a debate with us wherever they want to. We will be ready with our team and they can bring anyone they want to. We are ready to settle the issue on principles."

The meeting took place before the FIA raided the Jang building in Rawalpindi and hijacked a truck loaded with newsprint. Mir Shakil informed the Speaker that the group was left with only one day's newsprint. "Though Jang Karachi might be published, I am afraid Jang Lahore and Pindi will be hit by lack of newsprint."

The News International Pakistan