Anwar Zeb

The caretaker government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has decided to withhold the salaries of 1109 social media influencers who were recruited during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) regime. The Information Department has written a letter to the Finance Department to withhold the honorariums and salaries of the said influencers.

Social media influencers recruited during the Tehreek-e-Insaf government were paid a monthly salary of Rs 25,000. Under this project of the Information Department, WhatsApp groups of these influencers were created and the content shared there was shared by these people from their own accounts.

The letter, written by the caretaker information minister, states that the project of social media influencers has lost its usefulness and relevance. Since the Election Commission has banned new projects and recruitment in the province, all the activities of this project are also closed as all the expenses including the salaries of these influencers, and stipends of interns were a waste of the public exchequer’s resources.

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Barrister Feroze Jamal Kakakhel, caretaker Information Minister, wrote in the letter that these influencers were working on a specific agenda and the caretaker government had no need for them, so their salaries should be stopped immediately.

This project of PTI was subject to severe criticism from the beginning. The opposition alleged that the provincial government has recruited youths to spread propaganda against political opponents spending public tax and they are also a burden on the exchequer.

But PTI members and these influencers deny these allegations. Peshawar-based social media influencer Jameel said when PTI was in power, he used to share ready-made materials regarding government initiatives, plans, and policies. “I have not yet been forced to share any social media post that is against the opposition.”

According to Jameel, ever since the caretaker government came in, these influencers have been promoting the works of the caretaker chief minister and ministers from the same platform.

Yesterday, caretaker information minister Feroze Jamal, while addressing a press conference regarding this project, said that the former government recruited influencers to abuse people. “Hundreds of people were recruited to the cause who would go to any lengths to silence opponents and critics,” he furthered.

On the other hand, Ikram Khatana, social media head of PTI KP, told TNN that this project was started to promote the work of the provincial government and to support the youth. The aim was to make people aware of government initiatives at the grassroots level, he added.

According to Ikram Khatana, all these youths were recruited on merit under the supervision of the Information Department, and the caretaker government has no authority to terminate the project.

Ikram Khatana said even today if a critic happens to have a look at the social media accounts of these influencers, the decisions, and actions of the caretaker government are being promoted there.

He said that it is a baseless allegation that these people are doing propaganda for PTI.

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