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EXCLUSIVE: Marriyum Aurangzeb Awards Rs 150 Million In Digital Ads To Blue-Eyed Company, Sidelines Non-Compliant Officials

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LAHORE: Senior Minister and central Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marriyum Aurangzeb reportedly directed Rs 150 million worth of digital media ads to Channel 7 Pvt. Ltd. as part of the Ramazan Negahban Package from March 15 to March 22, 2024, circumventing standard procedures, The Scoop (TS) has learnt.

Sources close to the matter disclosed that officials at the Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR) were unaware of these digital media placements, which were funneled through various digital platforms via Channel 7. “We became aware of these ads when Channel 7’s Group Chairman Jawad Humayun approached us to release Rs 150 million for these ads,” a senior DGPR official stated. “It was then we informed them that the payment could not be made since the ads were not processed through the proper channels and lacked the requisite SPL number on the documentation, a prerequisite for such transactions.”

Marriyum Aurangzeb Reportedly Pressures DGPR For Payment Approval

Multiple sources from the DGPR and the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) confirmed to TS that Marriyum Aurangzeb pressured DGPR Rubina Afzal Khan, Secretary Information Syed Daniyal Gillani, and other officials to expedite the payment to Channel 7 before Eid-ul-Fitr, though it was eventually delayed until after the holiday. “These officials requested evidence of the digital ads from Channel 7,” an official reported. However, rather than providing the necessary documentation, Channel 7 only offered screenshots.

Allegedly, Aurangzeb made repeated calls to these officials, summoning them to her residence and threatening dire consequences if the payments were not made to her preferred company.

On April 17, 2024, when the concerned officials still had not executed the payment, DGPR’s Director Coordination Muhammad Tariq Ismail, Director Advertisement Abdul Nasir, and Deputy Director Advertisement Finance Syed Aftab Ali Shah informed Aurangzeb that they could not sign off on the documents and release the funds, citing potential legal repercussions and possible investigations by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Punjab Govt Replaces Secretary Information Danyal Gillani With Farah Gogi’s Favored Bureaucrat, Ahmad Aziz Tarrar

Director General Public Relations wrote letter Director Communication PITB for verification of these ads

It is pertinent to mention that on April 8, 2024, the DG Rubina Afzal Khan wrote a letter to director communication and and Coordination Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) with the request for verification of inventories procured from web publishers and social media platforms.

As per the document the copy of which is available with The Scoop, the Directorate General Public Relations has enlisted the expertise of the PITB to verify digital inventories purchased from web publishers and social media platforms, aiming to ensure transparency and proper use of public funds in digital advertising.

DG’s letter to PITB


In a formal request issued by the DGPR of Punjab, the administration expressed its need for technical support from PITB to assess the performance and delivery of advertising campaigns. The primary concern is to validate whether these digital advertisements have achieved the stipulated impressions and engagement metrics according to their respective contracts.

The DGPR highlighted the importance of using actual data from publishers’ dashboards and social media insights for verification, explicitly stating that screenshots or photographs of the campaigns would not suffice. The detailed verification will include checks on whether the advertising was delivered within the set timeframe and targeted geographic and demographic specifications.

Additionally, the DGPR has called for a cross-verification of the Rs. 150 million spent on these campaigns to ensure that the expenditure aligns with the actual media placements received in its letter written to PITB.

In its letter DGPR stated that it is part of a broader effort to enhance accountability and effectiveness in its operations, emphasizing precision and reliability in its use of digital platforms for public communications and advertising.

The DGPR stated that PITB’s prompt cooperation is highly anticipated to aid in achieving these governance objectives.

Secretary Information and DGPR Face Consequences for Non-compliance

A senior official close to Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz told TS that both Secretary Information Daniyal Gillani and DGPR Rubina Afzal Khan faced repercussions for their refusal to facilitate the alleged corruption, leading to their removal from their positions on April 22, 2024.

Danyal Gillani made OSD
DGPR relieved from her duties

Senior Minister’s Alleged Involvement in Corruption

Political insiders claim that Marriyum Aurangzeb is now attempting to have the payment released through the industries department, bypassing DGPR protocols. Additionally, sources allege that Aurangzeb received a Rs 30 million commission from Channel 7 in exchange for the ad placements.

Channel 7, along with Interlink, reportedly hold favored status with Aurangzeb, having managed significant campaign ads for the PML-N, including those aired just before the general elections proclaiming “Nawaz Sharif The PM.”

“Marriyum Aurangzeb also channeled more than Rs 2 billion worth of campaigns and ads to these companies during her 18-month tenure as the Federal Information Minister under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government,” political insiders recalled.

When approached for comment, Senior Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb did not respond to WhatsApp texts or phone calls.

 

Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.

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