What a pleasure it is to be here this morning to lay the foundation stone of the national broadcasting House from where Radio Pakistan would broadcast national programmes. The serene surroundings of Islamabad, I hope, will give an inspiring fillip to our creative activities and urge us to greater devotion to this fundamental responsibility.
Unfortunately, in our country no genuine efforts have been made for educating the masses. Our former masters were afraid of the awakening of the people for reasons that are self-evident. The percentage of literacy is very low. Few can afford to purchase television sets. Thus, the Radio remains the most powerful medium of mass contact and it shall remain so for quite some time to come. Radio, with its longer range and because of inexpensive transistorised receiving sets, has reached almost every home in the far-flung places. As such, a much greater responsibility devolves on Radio to educate the people, to bring about greater awareness among them, to provide the public with salutary entertainment, to keep them informed of significant happenings inside the country and abroad and prepare them for an all-out effort for national reconstruction. Radio must reflect the new order, the new concept and the new urges and aspirations of the people. It must project the new changes that are taking place in the structure of our society.
It is after a long time that a truly representative government has come into power in our country. The nigh of terror and oppression, of darkness and falsehood has ended. There is the dawn of a new era, of socialism, of an egalitarian society, determined to mitigate the suffering of the poor, to usher in a new economic and social order and rebuild Pakistan into a modern, progressive State in accordance with the dynamic ideology of Islam.
The new revolutionary Government took over at a time when the country had suffered a great disaster and was facing greater humiliation. Death, destruction and despondency had engulfed the entire country. The morale of the people had been shattered and the economy was in chaos. Rebuilding the country is a gigantic task requiring selfless efforts of the entire nation. The new government immediately addressed itself to the dire situation and took swift actions to tackle the enormous problems that assailed our people.
A part from reviving the confidence of the people in their capabilities and in their destiny, the Government has introduced a number of reforms and framed new policies in every sphere of life aimed at creating a new society free of exploitation, where there would be justice and equality, where the peasants and workers shall no longer groan under the tyranny of feudal lords, heartless business tycoons, callour industrial magnates and corrupt officials. In our new society there will be amity and co-operation between the labour and the management, between the haris and the land-owners—all striving to make effective contribution to the process of national reconstruction.
The people's Government has restored democracy and ended Martial Law. The genius of our people shall now blossom freely in this new atmosphere of light and freshness. The impediments which had blocked the assertion of the people's go is a people's order designed to bring new hope to farms and factories, to clear the slums and backward areas and to bring new schools and colleges.
We have, however, not achieved our total objectives. We have made a modest beginning. We still have a very long way to go. The creative energies of the entire nation have to be harnessed to meet the challenge of national reconstruction. It is here that Radio, possessing the widest range of all the publicity media, has to play a decisive role. It must quickly reorientate its programmes to reflect the new state of affairs. It must objectively project the reforms that have taken place in the fields of education, agriculture, industry and business and law and administration. It must go all out to dispel gloom and despair from the minds of the people and infuse in them a vibrant spirit. Radio has to present attractive programmes aimed at eradicating regionalism and parochialism and promoting national integration on a voluntary basis. The youth of the country are the vanguard of new Pakistan. The future of the country belongs to them and they must prepare for these onerous responsibilities. Each and every programme of Radio Pakistan must be attractive and purposeful reflecting a sense of urgency and firm resolve essential for our onward march towards our cherished goals.
I am glad to learn that Radio Pakistan has grown into a network with a much larger number of transmitters, studios and staff engaged day in and day out in the arduous task of educating and entertaining the masses, explaining the policies of the Government and promoting good-will. It is also encouraging to know that Radio Pakistan has embarked upon a Crash Programme in order to open new stations and install new transmitters to provide reliable medium-wave reception to every region in Pakistan and to reach foreign listeners with a clear message. I can assure you that Government will consider your proposal for development expeditiously and afford all possible assistance.
Similarly, the Government is conscious of the fact that radio receivers, though much cheaper than before, are still beyond the purchasing power of the poor peasants and workers. As Radio must reach this class of our society the price of single band, medium-wave sets must be reduced substantially. I hope the manufacturers and the Government agencies concerned will examine this issue and soon make it possible for the poor to own a radio.
The Government is aware that the present organizational structure of Radio Pakistan is out-dated, totally ill-equipped to provide the kind of service expected in a democratic country. The present administrative and financial controls are impeding its working and severely restrict its ability to achieve national objectives. An organisation whose activities are predominantly creative cannot afford to be run as just another department of the Government. We have given serious through to this matter and I am glad to announce that Radio Pakistan will become a Statutory Corporation on the 1st of July this year. I am sure this will afford it an opportunity to reorganise itself on modern lines and with greater administrative and financial freedom it will achieve professional efficiency of a high standard. It will be able to offer better terms of service to its employees, attract artists and present much better programmes.
I am sure the Islamabad Complex when completed will fulfil the need of having a respectable Broadcasting House in the Capital and also afford modern technical facilities for production and transmission of programmes. I shall watch its progress with keen interest.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, today is the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was on this day that Allah, in His infinite mercy, blessed mankind with the Crown of His creation who was not only the final messenger of Divine Revelation but also set a lasting and inspiring example of a life of devotion and dedication for which no sacrifice was too great to be made, no impediment too harrowing for making a beginning towards improvement, and no disappointment too poignant to shake the believers' faith in ideals. This sacred day reminds us of the glorious principles of equality, justice and brotherhood, of freedom and universal peace, of banishing fear and ignorance. For a Muslim there cannot be a more auspicious occasion than the birthday of the Holy Prophet and I am, therefore, very happy to lay the foundation stone of the National Broadcasting House on this auspicious day. I pray it will serve the cause of the people of Pakistan. Thanks you.