NEW DELHI : Upset over the negative vibes coming from Pakistan interior security minister Rehman Malik last week due to the Home Ministry’s clumsy media strategy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Group of Ministers (GoM) on media, headed by P Chidambaram, to organise meetings with the ministers to help them adapt the demand of media handling during the key bilateral visits.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has also sent out an advisory to all the ministries that the External Affairs Ministry should be kept in loop and its advices enforced during any talks involving the foreign governments as India would not have faced the kind of embarrassment left behind by Malik during his 3-day visit to Delhi.

The External Affairs Ministry was, in fact, opposed to inviting Malik but did not resist when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde insisted that he had already given a word to him.

The ministry has already briefed the PMO that the Home Ministry officials should have briefed the Indian media informally as is the practice during such important occasions, on what happened during the talks, more so when Malik and the Pakistan High Commission officials were passing on all information on what was going on during his visit.

The GoM on media has done its own probing on why the media management during Mali’s visit did a lot of harm to the government’s image and found it shocking that both the External Affairs Ministry and the Press Information Bureau that deal with the media on daily basis was just not involved.

To avoid any such embarrassment, the GoM has asked the External Affairs Ministry to provide it a list of all meetings in the next three months  involving the foreign governments to give a briefing to the concerned ministers on the media management.

In one of the internal meetings of the GoM held this week, everyone agreed to telecom minister Kapil Sibal’s suggestion that the Cabinet ministers  should be better briefed when they come before the cameras.

The GoM also decided to devise a mechanism for better coordination between various ministries during the bilateral and foreign visits.

There was an unanimity in the GoM that Malik’s numerous salvo should have been countered and Shinde should have been prepared with a riposte to his remarks.

It wondered why Malik was allowed to get away with anti-India remarks one after another, starting with describing the torture and killing of Kargil martyr Capt Saurabh Kalia as death due to bad weather, dubbing Abu Jundal who helped in training the 26/11 terrorists as an Indian agent, comparing 26/11 with the Babri Mosque demolition and seeking more proof on Jammat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.

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Free Press Journal