The show goes on in Islamabad: Presidency wins turf war

By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, Aug 3: The Prime Minister House (PMH) has lost its bid to host this year’s ‘Salam Pakistan’ cultural show that the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) has been staging on the night of August 13 for the past five years to ring in the country’s Independence Day.

Dawn learnt on Sunday that the PMH backed down after a determined President House trumped its bid and the event would be held, as usual, at the President House.

Sources in the government said the PTV management has been told to prepare two sets for the gala celebration – one inside the Darbar Hall of the Presidency and the other in the lawn at the fifth floor of the building.

This is just for precaution. Though the programme was being held on the lawns of the Presidency since 2003, last year rains forced an abrupt shift of the show to the Darbar Hall, a PTV source explained.

“Our Chief Set Designer has been tasked to start the work from Monday,” the source said.

PTV will bear the entire expense of putting up the sets and staging the programme. Last year, when there was only one set, the programme had cost about Rs4 million, one-fourth of that going to the installation of the sound system alone.

PTV invites famous artistes and singers to perform live at the cultural show before a select gathering of VVIPs.

PTV chairman Dr Shahid Masood reportedly received a letter from the Prime Minister House in the last week asking him to stage this year’s Independence Day show at the Prime Minister House, instead of the Presidency.

When the Presidency got wind of the move it reportedly came heavy on the PTV. The president’s spokesman, Maj Gen (retired) Rashid Qureshi, wrote to the PTV chairman insisting that the Presidency should remain the venue as usual. However, the turf war has left a bad taste in the mouth of some leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). They are said to be determined to stay away from the independence celebrations if held in the Presidency.

Some observers muse that a rival celebration may be held in the grounds of the Prime Minister House at the same time. In any case the people for whom this country was created cannot hope to be part of either.

Source: daily Dawn, 4/8/2008

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