April 23, 2013
KARACHI: In Islamabad, the Supreme Court made public a list of journalists and media persons that the Information Ministry allegedly paid through its secret fund.
The list had been eagerly awaited and there was anticipation that the list, which contains itemized particulars of those expenditures the ministry now does not claim secrecy, would lay bare the names of some big shot journalists who had been on the take or who had curried favor.
In retrospect the list has come as a bit of a letdown, an anti-climax.
It's not that it does not have certain names that make you go "Oh," - it's just that most of the corresponding reasons and amounts seem piddling and inconsequential. You can't help but believe that you have been handed a handful of 'Jhoonga' and the real details are still under wraps.
In other words, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg i.e. the real culprits are very much at large, seena taan kay!
The disbursements made total Rs.177.98 million and have been published on the Supreme Court website. There is another list expected and, of course, anxiously awaited as well. It is expected to detail payments and gifts. Can't wait to see that.
The order of the court to make public the list came during the hearing of a case in connection with the petitions filed by TV anchors Hamid Mir and Absar Alam who had requested that the media be made accountable after accusations of widespread corruption, bribes and wrongdoings became the talk of the country following the revelation of the infamous 'list of 19' and also talk of payments made by the PPP government.
Suffice to say that rather than satisfy the curiosity of the public, the proceedings of the court, its directions and the decision have only served to further whet their appetite for the real course.
One payment really stands out and it must have made my good old friend, better known as mamoon, really happy. On the 30th of September 2011, a whopping Rs35,000,000 were approved by the PM and paid to CNBC for the program called "Pakistan This Week". Seriously... this program I have routinely heard being described as "nira kachhra". So garbage does have returns. One lives and learns every day.
Then there is the not so shocking case of PFUJ President, Pervaiz Shaukat who features quite prominently, indeed the list gets off with his name. This is the guy heading the body that represents all of media in Pakistan. The louts that voted him in must have been totally corrupt (no shock there) or totally brainless.
Anchors, analysts and senior journalists - Rauf Klasra and Nusrat Javed, Sohail Warraich, Nazir Naji, Asma Chaudhary, Arif Nizami, P.J.Mir, and Mujahid Barelvi, were also amongst the many beneficiaries of the fund.
Yet somehow one cannot shake off the feeling that a parallel list, which runs much deeper and much truer, exists.
"You do know that most businesses have two sets of books," I was reminded by a journalist friend, "Well, I'm sure the same rule applies here. Now we have to wait for the real list to emerge. This is but the tip of the iceberg."
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