AJK Minister for Information Sardar Abid Hussain said that the Kashmir freedom movement has reached a decisive turn, and urged the media to affectively highlight the importance of early settlement of the Kashmir issue through the grant of right to self-determination to the Kashmiris.

The minister was speaking at a reception hosted in his honour by Kashmir Press Club Vice President Zafeer Baba. Abid continued that the required funds to the tune of millions of rupees were released by the AJK government through the departments concerned to the AJK PID for the disbursement of advertisement bills to the media.

“The much-awaited amounts of the advertisement bills lying pending with various AJK government and semi-government functioneries will be paid through the Press Information Department of AJK government to the national and the AJK state print media,” he told the gathering.

The ceremony was also addressed among others by Director PID AJK Raja Azher Iqbal, Kashmir Press Club Mirpur President Altaf Hamid Rao, KPC ex president Syed Abid Hussain Shah and Kashmir Press Club Bhimbher President Jamil Shafi.

The speakers highlighted the problems being faced by the local media men and the suggestion to address the longstanding issues to ensure making the local media vibrant for the promotion of Kashmir cause and for the betterment of the local population.

He was complained about the alleged ineffective and biased approach of certain elected office-bearers of the AJK Press Foundation like issuance of the accreditation cards and grant of membership of the foundation to scores of ineligible and non-deserving persons on personal liking, indiscriminate disbursement of welfare funds to the eligible and deserving members of the Press Foundation.

The minister said that the Press Foundation chairman would be apprised of the views and healthy suggestions of the working journalist fraternity of AJK to ensure making the Foundation a vibrant institution in line with the prime objectives of its formation.

The minister disclosed that the government had made the group life insurance of all the AJK-based accredited journalists. “The eligible dependants of the accredited AJK journalists would be paid an amount of Rs300,000 per family in case of the death of any such journalist,” he pointed out while elaborating the benefits of the group insurance. He added that under the spirit to make AJK Press Information Department a vibrant institution, an integrated plan was being evolved to promote and strengthen the relationship between the AJK government and the media in order to ensure the performance of the media in most excellent manner harmonious to the need of the modern age.

“The proposed plan involves the inter-district, inter-provincial and inter-Kashmir study trips of the AJK journalists to strengthen and improve their professional skills and potential to enable them to serve the nation and the country through the best of their professional activities and high intellect and pen,” he said.

“The plan also involved the establishment of fully equipped media centres in all the district headquarters of AJK under the phased programme,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Director Information AJK Raja Azher disclosed that a programme had been devised by the state government for managing the inter-provincial study tours of the journalists from Azad Jammu Kashmir for various parts of the country as well as within the state of Jammu & Kashmir in order to broaden their journalistic vision and to make them acquainted with the latest know-how about the development and progress in various walks of life.

“Besides, the government is also seriously contemplating to organise the training workshops for the working journalists in AJK to raise their professional knowledge and potentials,” he added.

Azher Iqbal said that the government has fixed the priorities to make affective the AJK Press Foundation in letter and spirit for the welfare of journalists. He said that a policy was also being reviewed to make more effective the indiscriminate distribution of the official advertisements of the AJK government and the semi-government departments through the district correspondents of the national English and Urdu dailies besides the regional periodicals through the Divisional Information offices.

He said that a proposal will be materialised to empower the divisional information offices for the disbursement of the amounts of the advertisement bills directly to ensure the timely payment of the advertisement bills to the newspaper organisations through their representatives at the divisional headquarters.

He also assured to streamline the policy for issuance of accreditation cards by the PID AJK to the working journalists without any discrimination and undue bottlenecks. He said that the Press Information Department will perform as a bridge between the government and the media in order to ensure the extensive coverage of the development activities of the public sector institutions particularly for the comprehensive projection of the Kashmir cause. He said that the state government was bent upon resolving the problems of the journalists on priority basis.