- Is the government doing what its predecessors did?
The suspension of Mr Naeem Bukhari as Chairman of PTV was done by the Islamabad High Court because the age relaxation for him violated a previous Supreme Court judgment, which gives rise to the suspicion that the PTI government is guilty of the same sort of abuses that it came to power by accusing its predecessors of committing: of using state resources to provide jobs for the boys, even where it violates laid-down agreements. The IHC order, which ordered Mr Bukhari to stop working as PTV MD, along with a number of other PTV directors nominated by the government, relied explicitly on the Supreme Court judgment in the case of a previous PTV Chairman, Mr Ataul Haq Qasmi, appointed by the PML(N) government.
The decision provides yet another example of the kind of amateurishness that seems to plague this government. The appointment of Mr Bukhari should have kept in view the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court in the earlier case, but did not, apparently in the anxiety to find a slot for Mr Bukhari, who established a claim on the PTI by appearing for it in the Panamagate case which led to Mian Nawaz Sharif being disqualified as Prime Minister. The criterion set does not forbid overage persons being appointed, it only makes it necessary for reasoning to be provided for the necessary waiver.
Mr Bukhari himself said that PTV was government-owned, and the opposition would not get equal time on it. The clear partisan bias was not the reason for the restraint order, but his role, though it had not had time to develop, seemed oddly old-fashioned. His task should have been to turn around the state-run channel, and the PTI will have to find a replacement who will be able to achieve that and who meets the Supreme Court’s criteria. PTV has not yet recovered from the shock, nearly two decades old, of losing its monopoly. The PTI government should also note that this is yet another example of its being badly served by its legal advisers, who have lost yet another case.