By Azaz Syed and Basit Ali Khan
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) extensively used electronic media advertisements apparently in an attempt to muster the public support to overcome the political turmoil in year 2014.
A close study of the advertisement to the electronic media reveals that Federal Government spent more than Rs.341 million for political advertisements in electronic media.
“Local and international media outlets are mostly driven by their economic interests. Governments particularly during their crisis apply advertisements to the media, in return media outlets turn positive towards them and often help governments by making non issues as issues , in a way that people could not judge,” said Ashfaq Gondal a former Federal Secretary Information, who closely dealt such situations in his career.
The data sans the names of television channels that the advertisements were given was shared with the Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on April 11 this year.
Although there no illegality has been committed but the data also shows how government uses public money for political purposes.
“There was no illegality in those ads as every government does her publicity and its discretion of the government,” Rizwan Aslam an accounts manager of Ms.Ever New Concepts Ltd an add agency working in federal capital.
On August 14, 2014 Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf led by Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri led Pakistan Awami Tehreek started a protest from Lahore which culminated into a protest sit in, in front of the parliament was apparently aimed at toppling the Nawaz Sharif led Pakistan Muslim League (N) and it ended soon after the Army Public School attack by the defunct Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on December 16th 2014.
The political advertisement campaigns which were paid to the private television channels were titled, Maeshat pay hamla (attack on economy) , Riasat Par Dhawa (attack on state), Political Stability, Go ka matlab (meaning of go), one year achievement of Federal Government, Qoum ki Awaz (voice of the nation) , Long March and Ptv.Hamla or attack on Pakistan Television Network.
The data shows that Federal Government’s advertisement campaign titling, “Maeshat pay hamla” (attack on economy) remained the most costly advertisement campaign during the year 2014 as Rs.150 million (Rs. 150,085,120) was spent on that. The campaign was released in December 2014.
The advertisement campaign “Riasat Pay Dhawa” or Attack on State remained the second most costly campaign as Rs.89 million were spent on this. The advertisement of Political Stability cost Rs.51 million thus being the third most costly advertisement during the whole year.
After the political advertisements, the Federal Government’s Information Ministry gave image building of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif its second biggest priority as it spent almost Rs.229 million ( Rs.228,957,700) in terms of advertisement. These advertisements to the electronic media included campaigns titled , 11 month achievements of Federal Government Rs. 49 million, Prime Minister Youth Program Rs.31 million, and Hazara Motorway Rs.27 million.
The country which is facing sever security crisis due to the terrorism and extremism remained the third priority subject of Information Ministry as a total of almost Rs.100 million were paid to the electronic media on advertisements related to Operation Zarb e Azb almost Rs.21 million. The advertisement campaign titling , United Against Terrorism which was initiated soon after Army Public School attack was paid Rs.79 million from the Federal Government exchequer. It is pertinent to note that military’s media office namely Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) separately issues advertisement campaigns which are never made public.
In four years 2012 to 2016 , the data reveals that more than Rs.3 billion public money was spent on electronic media advertisement by the Federal Government through its Information and Broadcast Ministry. Likewise government also spent almost Rs.9.8 billion on print media advertisement. The total advertisements given to print and electronic media have touched Rs.12.8 billion rupees which is almost more than half of the total health budget of the country.
Main image: Dawn.com