Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Why did cabinet remove Chairman PTV Naeem Bukhari?

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A day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barred Naeem Bukhari, 72, from serving as chairman of Pakistan Television, the federal cabinet removed him and two other directors of PTV board on Friday. At the same time, it reinstated Amir Manzoor, who had been sent home by Mr Bukhari.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry told daily Dawn that the cabinet, through circulation, took a decision in which Mr Bukhari and two other directors were removed as they were over 65 years old.

“In fact the Islamabad High Court had asked the government to remove those directors of the board whose age was above 65 years. Today the cabinet removed Mr Bukhari and two other directors,” he added.

Asked why the decision was taken in haste and made through circulation instead of convening a formal meeting of the cabinet, the minister said the government had to take a decision as presently the PTV was without a head and facing a “chaos-like situation”. He said Amir Manzoor, who was removed as managing director of PTV by Mr Bukhari, was reinstated by the cabinet on Friday.

The IHC had restrained Mr Bukhari from working as PTV chairman on Thursday. Presiding over the case, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had observed that there needed to be a clear reason for relaxing the upper age limit for 65-year-old Bukhari. It recalled a decision by the Supreme Court in Nov 2018 to set aside the appointment of Ataul Haq Qasmi as PTV chairman.

Read more: Imran Khan wanted Dirilis Ertugrul in Urdu language: PTV offered its services

The court noted that the information ministry had repeated the same mistakes as those made in Mr Qasmi’s case and did not go through the apex court’s judgment before sending the summary to the federal cabinet.

Naeem Bokhari had categorically said that PTV was not like any other channel and the opposition would not be allowed equal coverage on the state television. In a video clip, Bokhari could be seen interacting with reporters while on his way to somewhere. One of the reporters asked him whether the government and the opposition would get “equal time” on PTV. “Absolutely not,” he said. “This is the PTV, not any other channel. This is state television which represents the government.” “Only government?” asked the reporter. “Only the government,” confirmed the PTV chairman before the video cut short.

PTV is facing serious economic and management challenges. Last year, the Prime Minister was briefed that PTV was facing outstanding amount of 5.8 billion rupees, while it had to pay 14 billion rupees to pensioners, and 1.2 billion rupees were further needed to upgrade its network.

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