Pakistan court lists out journalists paid secretly

Islamabad, April 23 (IANS) Pakistan’s apex court has released a list of journalists who were allegedly paid by the information ministry through a secret fund, a media report said.

The court released the names during the hearing of petitions by two private television channel anchors who had requested the court to probe the matter of media accountability and payments made to journalists by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in 2011-12.

The Supreme Court Monday made public the list of journalists and media personnel, reported Dawn.

The list contains details of those expenditures for which the information ministry now does not claim privilege or secrecy.

The list of disbursements was uploaded on the apex court’s website. The disbursements total up to Rs.177.98 million.

The journalists in the list have not yet responded.

This is the first time that such a list has come to light.

The court last year sought information and froze the funds of the information ministry after the petitioners requested an end to the secret funds.

The information ministry had then denied the allegations.

Wall Street Journal reported that six journalists had got up to $5,000 in cash for “special assignments”. The list does not explain what the cash payments were meant to cover.

Arif Nizami, the country’s interim information minister, too finds mention on the list. The government paid for a plane ticket to Britain to cover then-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s visit in May 2012. At the time Nizami was the editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today.

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