LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that country is facing numerous challenges and elimination of terrorism is at the top of this list.

He expressed these views while addressing oath taking ceremony of newly elected body of Lahore Press Club on Monday. He said that we all have to fight war against terrorism and the role of students, journalists, civil society, ulema and all segments of the society is of great importance in this regard.

The chief minister said that the role of journalist community is of vital importance for promoting harmony and tolerance in the society for eliminating terrorism. He said that the war against terrorism was multidimensional.

He said that this war neither started overnight nor would end overnight. He said that besides constructive criticism, media has to encourage the institutions on good deeds. He announced that the Punjab government would pay annual premium of Rs57 lakh of life insurance of members of Lahore Press Club.

The chief minister said that office-bearers of Lahore Press Club had taken welfare steps for the journalists and health insurance scheme of journalists was an excellent step. He said that a comprehensive plan should be evolved for other demands of journalist community and a practicable planning should be made keeping in view their socio-economic requirements. He said that the expansion of scope of such programme should be considered not only to Lahore but throughout the province.

Congratulating LPC President Arshad Ansari and other office-bearers, the chief minister said that journalist community had expressed complete confidence in them and now it was their responsibility to play a more active role in resolution of problems of journalist community. He said that a plan should jointly be evolved for establishing journalist housing colonies in those cities where such colonies did not exist.

“The role of journalist community has been very important for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions. Journalists have achieved freedom through hard work and sacrifices. Every segment of the society will have to utilise its energies for eliminating terrorism,” the CM held.

He said that Punjab government had constituted a counter terrorism force on modern professional lines after hard work of one and a half years. He said that Punjab government had provided all resources for counter terrorism force. He said that the passing out of the second batch of counter terrorism force would be held in April while the third batch in July or August.

He said that there is no room for extremism, terrorism and sectarianism in the country. He said that effective steps will have to be taken for coping with the challenge of terrorism. He said that we will have to march forward speedily by learning a lesson from past mistakes.

Arshad Ansari in his welcome address said that Shahbaz Sharif is benefactor of journalism and due to his efforts, qabza groups have been eliminated from Lahore Journalist Housing Society. It was their belief that only Shahbaz Sharif can take this bold step, he added.

Arshad Ansari said that the chief minister had raised the morale of journalists by providing them their rights and now they would discharge their duties in a better manner. He said that the setting up of F-Block for providing residential plots to more 300 journalists is another achievement of Shahbaz Sharif and he has won the hearts of journalists through this step.