Is Media Being Bought By Hotelier?

Mar 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Censorship, Jang

An interesting post by Riaz Ahmed originally posted on the blog “Let Us Build Pakistan” suggests that perhaps big money is censoring media coverage of the Pearl Continental Hotel strike in Karachi. I did a Google News search for any articles in the last week with the keywords Pearl Continental Hotel Strike and found there were zero hits. This is a shameful episode for Pakistani media.

It has been 9 days that over 150 workers at Pearl Continental Hotel Karachi are protesting against the sacking of 4 union and over 98 other workers. In protest they have occupied the basement of the 5-star hotel for the last 9 days and despite police raids and bullying and threats by security guards they have not left the site of occupation. This is a historic protest by workers in Karachi, the largest industrial city, where workers movement is generally luke-warm in manners. Occupation by a large number of workers at a prime site means that they have been pushed against the wall.

Pearl Continental Hotel Strike

However the media in Karachi are pretty quiet about the situation. The PC management, chaired by the 5th richest person in Pakistan Mr Hashwani, has managed to keep the media silent, the police raids and arrests of male and female workers and their manhandling all have been hushed-up.

The only media which is reporting about the strike is the stinking right-wing press named Daily Ummat. The entire liberal, pro-democracy, pro-human rights English and otherwise ‘fighting for freedom of media and democracy’ press have managed not to report the protests, arrests and the occupation of PC workers in Karachi.

Today, March 04, 2010, Express TV crew came to cover the protest at the 2nd site of the protest ie the camp in front of PC and interviewed and filmed many agitators. Reportedly their entire story was killed by one Director named Fahd Hussain for no obvious reason. The only reason is ‘its is not allowed’.

Pearl Continental Hotel Strike 2

PC hotel workers share a very tiny fraction of the billions earned by the Hashwani group. Since 2001 about 250 sacked workers have been protesting but their is no response. Now a new layer of sacked workers and those showing solidarity with them have been targeted by the rich management. It is time media wakes-up and express its neutrality about the protest.

A commenter on the original post, Mr. Aamir Mughal sheds more light on the situation:

Mr Kamran Khan [Senior Correspondent of Daily Jang/GEO/The News] is a very close friend of Sadruddin Hashwani [Owner of PC] hence the news in censored. I wonder how does Kamran Khan maintain/afford houses in Defence Society Phase 6 and another house in PECHS [RAZI ROAD] Karachi and both the localities are considered Posh and “Costly” residential quarters of Karachi. How many Senior Journalist can afford a sport car like Mr. Kamran Khan do? By the way Kamran Khan was also very “closed” to Brigadier Imtiaz [since the days Imtiaz was only a Colonel in Karachi].

This looks very bad, indeed.

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  1. Media ignoring this issue [particularly the permanent pain in the neck GEO] because Mr Kamran Khan [Senior Correspondent of Daily Jang/GEO/The News] is a very “close” friend of Sadruddin Hashwani [Owner of PC – and often enjoy high tea and sumptuous lunch/dinner there] hence the news is censored. I wonder how Kamran Khan maintain/afford houses in Defence Society Phase 6 and another house in PECHS [RAZI ROAD] Karachi and both the localities are considered Posh and “Costly” residential quarters of Karachi. How many Senior Journalist can afford a sport car like Mr. Kamran Khan do? By the way Kamran Khan was also very “close” to Brigadier Imtiaz [since the days Imtiaz was only a Colonel in Karachi].

    When you sack low level/low paid employees [working journalists] from Jang/Geo and promote only few [5 Big of GEO] in the name of so-called Freedom of the Press and don’t implement 7th Wage Board Award. In total more than 70 employees were sacked from GEO and we didn’t read single news anywhere and same is the case with NEWSONE/ARY/AAJ/EXPRESS AND COUNTLESS OTHERS TV Channel coming out of woodwork. It doesn’t suit when these channels talk about Labour Laws.

  2. Fahad Hussain [Earlier was in GEO TV] and Express Channel’s Reality is as under:

    Unethical Behavior of Express News TV Pakistan.

    Dear Folks,

    These top TV Anchors/Editors/Owners are more ruthless than Intelligence Operatives.

    I had joined ExpressNews TV Pakistan 2 Months ago as a Researcher and read it yourself as to what kind of treatment I received from their top management. Funniest thing is that on 10th July 2009, THE OWNER OF EXPRESS NEWS TV [Sultan Lakhani] made me Incharge of Express News TV Research Section to coordinate with everyone in Expressnews [Current Affairs Anchors e.g Qatreena, Mubashir Lucman, Imran Shirvanee, and Kamran Shahid] and on 13th July 2009 I received a telephone call from Director Program – Senior Executive Producer Karamullah Ghumro that “your services are no more required because we don’t want Retired IB Officer working in Express News TV.


    In 2002/2003 I was thrice interviewed in The News International [Interviewed by the then Executive Editor Ms Humma Ahmed, Shahrukh Hasan (Group Managing Editor, Jang Group) and three other gentlemen of HR. My appointment was finalised all the papers/contract were signed [that Humma Ahmed much before this official work ‘used’ my services for the Jang Group of Newspaper – nowadays Humma Ahmed has suddenly become Human Rights Activist protesting in favour of Child Molester Journalist of Jang Group Nayyar Zaidi who is in US Jail for Child Molestation Wednesday, March 18, 2009 GEO TV’s Paedophile/Child Molester Correspondent in USA – 1 POSTCARD USA: The strange case of Nayyar Zaidi — Khalid Hasan Sunday, September 14, 2008 and out of nowhere after three months of waiting period she suddenly called me and said “we couldn’t appoint you because you are a Retired IB Officer [I just asked one question that why did you accept my CV in the first place???].

    Similar treatment I received at the hands of Mujahid Barelvi [Indus], Shams Kazmi [Aurat Foundation/Indus Vision and now GEO ], and Adnan Awan [Indus Vision and now GEO TV and he is related with Karamullah Ghumro – Senior Executive Producer/Director Programs of ExpressNews TV], they all used my work/research and then didn’t even pick up the phone when Itried to remind them of the promise they made for giving me a job.

    Same treatment I received from NEWSONE’s Director Ashraf Khan [he said why dont you remove the IB Service Record form your CV]. Mr Ashraf Khan is in Associated Press.

    Dawn Group of Newspapers is even worse, they call me for interview in July/Aug 2005 and I was interviewed twice by the so-called Intellectual Muhammad Ali Siddiqui and I was also give a test paper to solve with clear instructions by this Muhammad Ali Siddiqui,

    “quote” Dont Cheat and Dont use Influence/Source for appointment. “unquote”.

    After the test/exam Mr Siddiqui said come back after three months and when I went there after three months Mr Siddiqui again gave me another question paper to solve and after that test he said we will call you in three months {as per him I have a flare for writing and as per him my answers for the test were excellent} and I am waiting for that call since 2005.

    Date: 13 July 2009


    Mr Suleiman Lalani,


    Expressnews Network,

    Television Media Network (PVT) Ltd,

    5 Expressway, Off Korangi Road,

    Karachi – Pakistan,

    Phone: 021 – 5800060.

    Subject: Resignation and Surrender of Attendance Card/Visiting Card.

    Dear Sir,

    Refer to my email dated Monday, July 13, 2009 regarding Resignation from Service [copy of the mails is at the end].

    Since I have resigned therefore I am surrendering the attendance card to you because it is the property of Express news. [Card is attached]. My visiting card [whole box] is in the office which you can collect by sending any Office Runner and cancel the visiting cards.


    Muhammad Aamir Mughal


    Mr Sultan Lakhani

    Mr Kamran Wajih, Director,

    Mr Mubeen Adam, Admin.

    Copy of Resignation is as under:

    Sent:Monday, July 13, 2009 4:42:32 PM

    Dear Sir,

    I, Muhammad Aamir Mughal, tender my resignation in protest from your so-called “Esteemed News Channel”. Your News Channel particularly, Karman Shahid, Mubashir Luqman and Mr Sultan Ali Lakhnai can shove all the research which I provided on your single telephone call and not a single time my name was included in the end credits. Shame on you Mr Karam.

    The List of Research is as under for which you called me and Research was used and no credits were given to the original Author:

    1 – Point Blank: Musharraf interview?.

    2 – Frontline: US Aid to Pakistan

    3 – Frontline: PAK – US Relations

    4 – Frontline: Asfandyar Wali – Pashtun Politics/Awami National Party.?

    5 – Frontline: Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi?

    6 – Point Blank: Talibanization and Pakistan

    7 – Frontline: Charter of Democracy – PPP/PML-N.

    8 – Point Blank: Mr Altaf Hussain – MQM

    9 – Provincial autonomy research?.

    SUICIDES: Number of suicides for economic reasons. Suicides on other issues (marriage proposal, love affair, failure / fear of failure in exams etc)

    PHILANTHROPY: How much Pakistanis give in alms. Any formal system except for Zakat deduction by banks. Number of beggars, street children, orphanage, SOS villages. Any initiative ever taken by government to tackle the issue.

    WRONG DIAGNOSIS: Wrong diagnosis of diseases by doctors and patients dying our suffering due to negligence of doctors. Any doctor ever punished for such negligence.

    POPULATION GROWTH: Programmes started during different governments to check population growth and their fate. Reactions by religious leaders etc to such initiatives.

    DOUBLE STANDARDS: Double standards in implementation of laws for rich and poor. Instances where common people were punished while influential people went scot free for similar crime / wrongdoings.

    SLUMS: Slums/katchi abadis. Figures / data. Slums given proprietary rights. Drives against such katchi abadis / slums during different periods.

    POTABLE WATER: How many Pakistanis have access to clean drinking water? There was a huge clean drinking water project started during Musharraf?s regime worth billions of dollars. Some water treatment plants were installed in different parts of the country. What is update on that?

    HOSPITALS: Number of hospitals, doctors, nurses in Pakistan. Ratio as per population. Comparison with a couple of other countries e.g, one in region and one in developed world

    SCHOOLS: Number of schools in public and private sector. Ratio as per population. Comparison with a couple of other countries e.g, one in region and one in developed world

    POWER GENERATION: Number of power generation plants and their capacity including IPPs and dams. How many are working to full capacity.

    INDISCIPLINE IN SPORTS: Indiscipline by Pakistani cricket players. Occasions / number of incidents / players involved. Players punished locally and by international organizations.

    FILMS: number of cinemas, past and present. How many filmmakers, how many films are made each year. Comparison with Bollywood and Hollywood.

    TOLL TAX: Toll tax kiosks on different roads across the country. Who collects this tax? How much money is involved and where it goes.

    LAPSED FUNDS: Government funds which lapse almost every year as they remain unutilized

    INFLATION: The comparison of rates of different commodities during last 10 years.

    MIGRATION TO CITIES: Rural-urban divide/migration to cities. Data comparing the urban and rural dwellers during last 10 years.

    Research [Javed Chaudhry, Ansar Abbasi, Rauf Klasra, Nazir Naji, M. Malick]?

    Research: Chaudries of Gujrat – Punjab, Pakistan?

    Cricket controversies?

    —–Original Message—–From: Muhammad Ayub [mailto:] Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 4:18 PM



    Subject: Research for next few days

    Dear Aamir Sb,

    Please research the following topics for the next few days. Please take yourtime as it is not something 1: Performance of our lawmakers. How many laws have been made since theNational Assembly came into being after the Feb 18, 2008 elections. How muchcost the government is incurring on them in terms of salaries and perks etc. 2: New Judicial Policy: Apparently the judiciary announced this policy afterwatching the situation in tribal areas. We have to see what is thepracticability of the implementation of this policy. How many more judges,courts we would need to decide cases according to new policy. How much costwould be needed for all this etc. 3: Religious fundamentalism 4: Balochistan issue 5: Conspiracies against Pakistan: Role of India, Israel; myths and reality Thank you, Regards, Muhammad Ayub, Senior Producer, Programming Cell: 03028545398

    Dear Sir,


    Refer to your instructions dated 17 Jun 2009 regarding One-liner Suggestions for Packages and Programs.

    Following are some suggestions as per my humble and poor knowledge:

    1 – Education Sector ? Why there are Ghost Schools when we receive Aid and Funds to promote Education.

    2 – Health Sector – HEALTH STRUCTURE IN PAKISTAN ? Hospitals, Doctors, Paramedics are not sufficient enough to cover the Population.

    3 – AILING MEDICAL EDUCATION ? Lack of latest Research on Disease and insufficient facilities.

    4 – Child Abuse ? Children face worse kind of abuse in home, school, madrerssah and work place.

    5 – ENVIRONMENT – Pollution, Noise Pollution, Adulteration in food stuff- what we eat, what we breathe, what we drink, where we live- our environment, what work we do, our genetic make up, our life styles, and many other factors that can affect our health and longevity.

    6 – FAMILY PLANNING: Have we planned to cope with the problems due to population growth?

    7 – QUACKERY AND QUACKS – It is common knowledge that more than half a million quacks are practicing across Pakistan. They pose a major health hazard to society and are responsible for jacking the mortality rate in the country.

    8 – SPURIOUS / COUNTERFEIT / BANNED DRUGS – Another curse the Pakistani drug market suffers from is the presence of spurious, counterfeit and banned drugs in large number. According to the Burhanuddin Commission Report 1984, ?Let there be no misunderstanding. Medicines and drugs once produced are not going to be dumped into the sea; they are going to be swallowed by the people whether they need them or not?.

    9 – AIDS/HIV AWARENESS- The fact that HIV/AIDS is spreading because of lack of knowledge, denial, ignorance and poor access to health facilities was underlying the message at the South Asia Interfaith Consultation on Children, Young People and HIV/AIDS, held in Katmandu, Nepal in 2003.

    10 – MENTAL ILLNESSES ? Majority of Pakistanis [around 40 % to 50 %] are suffering from Depression and Mental Illness and they don?t know it.

    11 – Girl-Child and Early Marriages ? Biggest problem of Rural Pakistan – Girls, especially in rural areas, tend to attain puberty at ages ranging from 9-12 years. Data gathered by demographers over the past decade shows a steadily rising age at marriage even for girls. Other sociological and anthropological research, however, points to a continuation of the cultural norm of early marriage, especially in rural areas (where 68% of Pakistan?s population resides), and the presence of 12-14 year old girls who are either pregnant or already mothers.

    12 – Poverty ? More than 40 % Pakistanis are living below poverty line ? What happened to the World Bank, IMF and Asia Development Aid meant for Poverty Alleviation and Social Action Programmes.

    Dear Sir,

    Our Channel lacks programs on following Topics.

    1 – Foreign Policy.

    2 – History.

    3 – Interfaith Dialogue [even countries like Saudi Arabia are holding such conferences to start a dialogue with the people of different religion to attain long lasting peace and peaceful coexistence].


    Muhammad Aamir Mughal


    —– Original Message —–
    From: [mailto:]
    Sent: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 15:05:16 +0400
    Subject: RE: Performance of lawmakers

    My Dear Ayub Sahab,

    I am no more with your organization. Since you had written that you want “Quality Research” therefore it is requested that you kindly ask for such quality reaserch from lickspittles like Kamran Shahid and Media Pimps like Javed Chaudhry and by the way Expressnews deserve Rascals like Shami and Abbas Ather, any truthful and upright person cannot provide what you demand. Mr Imran Shirvanee wanted me out since the day I was appointed [this was confirmed by Mr Karam on several times] so ask for Research from Mr Imran Shirvanee and see as to how this Imran Shirvanee kind of gentlemen succeed in you organizations.

    A glimpse of Quality:

    From: Aamir Mughal [mailto:]
    Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:30 PM
    To: ‘’

    Subject: Official Complaint

    Dear Mr Karam,

    The letter below was written as a reply to Mr Imran Shirvanee and I am posting it to you as a complaint against Mr Imran. The contents are self-explanatory and may please be kept on record. The copy is not sent to Mr Imran. The research which I have already provided to Mr. Imran and copies are sent to Mr. Rasheed are 24 in number, since April 17, 2009 much before my appointment. If you require copies, I can e-mail them to you.


    Muhammad Aamir Mughal


    Dear and Respected Sir,

    With utmost humility and respect I would beg to say that you should behave yourself while addressing the undersigned which you usually don?t and that is quite evident for everybody. For example you quite often raise question on my dressing, my moustaches, and the worst habit you are indulged in is that you time and again ask question in front of everybody in Programming as to why I haven’t been married yet. That is my dear Sir, is no business of yours whether I am married or celibate. In the very first brain storming session on Baluchistan after my appointment, you in front of Mr Saif Khan [AP] and Ms. Tania Mirza [AP], openly passed very negative comment on the material I collect.

    Much before my appointment as Researcher i.e. on the night of 16 April 2009, you and Mr Rasheed called me to Express News for initial interview and you my dear Sir, had asked;


    “Give me everything you have on Karachi”


    And I did provide everything on Karachi from 1984 to 2007 [let me remind you again that the text on Karachi wasn’t my blog entry but chronological history as reported in the press. Between from 17th April 2009 to 30th April 2009, you my dear Sir, called me and asked for Swat Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009 and that I also provided on your “Telephonic Decree”. After my appointment you asked for the “Research” [without specifying any specific questions] on Shortage of Indus Water/Kalabagh Dam, Sindhi Nationalists, Bhutto Dynasty, Internally Displaced Persons, Bonded Labor, Nuclear Issue, Baluchistan issue.etc.etc.

    My Dear Sir,

    Please advice what should one do when you jump from one topic to another twice a day everyday and issue verbal orders to arrange data on any topic immediately as per your whims and desire instead of the set pattern of Time Table and Schedule. On one hand you demand research [without specifying any questions and the mail about what actually you want is received on 13 May 2009].

    No doubt I was jobless for the last 8 years and I am ready to face more hardship of unemployment with honor and dignity but I will not allow insulting comment

    —–Original Message—–

    From: [mailto:]

    Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 4:30 PM



    Dear Aamir saheb,

    As has been discussed with you earlier, please, do NOT send me blogs in the name of research. You are supposed to send me a concise report on topics on one page (maximum two) covering four (at least two) major questions on the issue. These questions should follow the basic theme of the episode as per the ep brief. Please, do not send me references for the data you provide me with unless I specifically require. You are also supposed to give a list of possible guests for the discussion etc.

    And again, please, STOP SENDING ME BLOGS. I do not want to go through hundreds of pages of internet data, because that data is already available on the net and the researcher is supposed to sift through it and give me a precise.

    Imran Shirvanee

    Executive Producer

    Wish you best of luck.


    Muhammad Aamir Mughal

    —- Original Message —–
    From: Muhammad Ayub [mailto:]
    Sent: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 16:52:46 +0600
    Subject: Performance of lawmakers

    Dear Aamir Sb,

    We plan to review the performance of our parliamentarians as against the expenditure incurred in terms of their salaries, allowances and other perks etc. We will calculate the amount and then the number of days the parliament was in session and the number of laws passed/ introduced etc. This will make an interesting comparison. One of our viewers has sent the following figures. We need to confirm them also. Please see how this can be done and what is available in this connection.


    Muhammad Ayub

    Dear Mubashir Luqman sb.

    I watch your show regualry. I have got some info of MNA’s expenses. Could you please review the below mail and can confirm if this is true. As we think you are an authentic and true man and we do not have on you credibility.If the below info is true then how can we minimize these expenses. Should we launch a movement against this or not. Because I always think that we do need to speak on every wrong thing that goes in the interest PAKISTAN.

    Subject: Salary and allowances of an MNA in Pakistan

    It is just for your information please. Salary & Govt. Concessions for a Member of NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (MNA)

    * Monthly Salary: Rs. 120,000 to 200,000

    * Expense for Constitution per month :Rs.100,000

    * Office expenditure per month : Rs.140,000

    * Traveling concession (Rs. 8 per km): Rs.48,000 (For a visit to ISLAMABAD & return): 6000 km

    * Daily BETA during Assembly meets: Rs.500

    * Charge for 1st class (A/C) in train : Free (For any number of times all over PAKISTAN)

    * Charge for Business Class in flights: Free for 40 trips / year (With wife or P.A.)

    * Rent for Govt. hostel any where: Free

    * Electricity costs at home : Free up to 50,000 units

    * Local phone call charge : Free up to 1,70,000 calls

    * TOTAL expense for a MNA per year : Rs. 32,000,000

    * TOTAL expense for 5 years : Rs. 1,60,000,000

    * For 534 MNA, the expense for 5 years : Rs. 85,440,000,000 (more than 800 crores)

    And they are elected by THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN, through a democratic process of this world, not intruded into the Assembly on their own or by any qualification. This is how all our tax money is been swallowed and price hike on our regular commodities. Think of the great democracy we have.

  3. Talat Hussain, AAJ TV, “Ghairat – Honour” & Express News.

    As per AAJ TV Website: One of Pakistan’s biggest talk shows Talat Hussain hosts Pakistan’s most respected and daring political analysis show, Live with Talat. Featuring the most trusted social and political intellectuals of Pakistan, the show brings in-depth analysis of the day’s biggest events and avoids the clutter to focus only on what’s important. Live everyday from the seat of power, Live with Talat is a must watch to understand the future socio-economic direction of our country. REFERENCE: Live With Talat

    Talat Hussain is presently the executive director News and Current Affairs of AAJ Television. He also contributes for Newsline, Time Magazine and occasionally contributes to India Today. He has worked with International channels like CNN and American Broadcasting as producer and has done extensive reporting for Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. As a media person he has vast experience in establishing news and current affairs systems. He has held key positions of Director, News & Current Affairs, with Pakistan Television Corporation, Prime Television (UK), ARY ONE, and Telebiz. REFERENCES:

    Last week Mr. Talat Hussain [LIE with Talat] also wrote an article in Express Newspaper and declared that some people have been targeting him with a nick name “Ghairat Brigade”, and he wrote whatever may come, he {Talat} will not be in “Bayghairat Brigade”. Ok, agreed, very well. Let me refresh the memory of Ghairat Mand Talat Hussain and his cohorts. Talat after quitting PTV had approached ARY TV and joined ARY TV as a Host and Anchor 2003/2004. One cannot imagine that Talat being a “Seasoned” Current Affair Journalist wouldn’t have remembered the below mentioned case of ARY. 159. Asif Ali Zardari ex-MNA (Received kickbacks from SGS PSI Company, Grant of license to ARY Gold). REFERENCE: The accused and accusations Sunday, November 22, 2009 [The News International Jang Group of Newspapers]

    Yesterday [12-12-2009], Mr. Talat Hussain has struck again by writing a Letter in Daily Express News Paper [rebirth of Irhsad Ahmed Haqqani in Daily Expressnews] which was addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani and advised him as to how to run the Government. One wonders as to why these Journalists, Analysts and TV Anchor don’t run for Public Office by participating in General Eelections, the letter of Mr Talat Hussain is as under:

    Mr Talat Hussain often writes for Express News. Talat is so “Ghairatmand – Honourbale” that he almost “forgot” to remember this as well:


    11 – Sultan Ali Lakhani & family Pakistan Ranking: 9 (tied at 9) Worth: £400m ($800) Industry: Businessman

    The Lakhanis are currently having a hard time at the hands of NAB. Sultan Lakhani and his three brothers run this prestigious group and the chain of McDonald’s restaurants in Pakistan. NAB has alleged the Lakhanis of having created phoney companies through worthless directors and raised massive loans from various banks and financial institutions. Sultan is currently abroad after having served a jail term with younger sibling Amin, though the latter was released much earlier. NAB had reportedly demanded Rs 7 billion from Lakhanis, but later agreed they pay only Rs 1.5 billion over a 10-year period. Lakhanis, like their arch-rivals Hashwanis, are the most well-known of all Ismaeli tycoons. Their stakes range from media, tobacco, paper, chemicals and surgical equipment to cotton, packaging, insurance, detergents and other house-hold items, many of which are joint ventures with leading international conglomerates. Though Lakhanis are in turbulent waters currently, the success that greeted them during the last 25 years especially has been tremendous. They have rifts with large business empires despite being known fur their genteel nature. Whether it is any government in Sindh or at the Federal level, Lakhanis have had trusted friends everywhere, though the present era has proved a painful exception. REFERENCE: Pakistans Rich List of 2008 Posted by Teeth MaestroDecember 8, 2007

    NAB in tight corner as businessmen refuse to pay dues By Kamran Khan – Two important business families of the provincial metropolis who had earlier agreed to pay about Rs1.8 billion to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and various banks – an offer that won them an immunity against allegations of financial impropriety and release of their key directors from prisons – have reneged on their promises. The defiant businessmen, senior NAB officials concede, currently constitute the single most important challenge to their drive against white-collar crime in the country. Senior NAB officials have confirmed that Sultanally Lakhani and his three brothers, who partly run and operate the Lackson Group of Companies, and the Mcdonald’s food restaurants in Pakistan, after two initial payments of Rs100 million each, have stopped further payments for an agreed amount of Rs1.5 billion.

    The NAB had alleged that the Lakhani brothers created phoney companies through worthless directors and raised massive loans from various banks and financial institution. Similarly, Irfan Iqbal Puri, Karachi’s leading supplier of petroleum products from the Gulf countries, has refused to match the agreed amount of Rs300 million after an initial payment of Rs230 million to the NAB. Puri, the NAB had alleged, compromised the quality and quantity of petroleum products in supplies to the Pakistan State Oil and caused huge financial loss to the national exchequer. Sultanally Lakhani, who was jailed for about nine months, and Irfan Puri, who had spent almost an equal amount of time in the NAB and jail custody, have since left the country and have taken up residence in the United States and the United Kingdom. Their attorneys have challenged the signed deals with the NAB claiming that the deals were signed under duress. Circles close to both the persons said that if the “businessmen are harassed in this country you can not stop negative impacts”. “We are initiating fresh probe and action against the Lakhanis and Irfan Puri,” said a senior NAB official. “The NAB will make sure that they stand by their agreements. We can’t allow people to hoodwink the NAB.” A present official of the NAB said that in the past the Bureau had brought historical achievements and brought back large amount of looted money. A big and highly reputed entrepreneur, who knows much about Lakhani’s case, while talking to The News categorically said that it was sheer injustice to those businessman who were law-abiding and doing their business honestly and making some achievements by working hard day and night. He said that a businessman obtained loans of billions of rupees, invested it in his business by some other name, earned a lot of profit, multiplied his wealth, brought new products in the market but declined to return the loan, and when he was caught he was given ten years more to pay back the loan in instalments. What are the laws of this country that when this person again defaulted no one is making it point that till the time he was caught, how much he had expanded his business and how many products he had introduced using these loans, he said. He said that it would not be surprising that he would again be given the facility of repayment in instalments for further many years and these episodes would go on. When asked about remedy, he said that it would be fair that the amount due on such defaulters be secured by confiscating their business units of equivalent value plus interest and selling these in the market. He added that it was injustice with other businessmen and the country to give any concession to such habitual defaulters who were continuously expanding their business and bringing new products in the market and not paying back heavy loans by bringing up the plea that they were in loss in the company for which the loan was taken. “It’s a fraud with the nation,” he said.

    On the other hand, various legal experts are wondering if the NAB had foolproof cases against the accused businessmen, why did the NAB top brass left big legal holes in their deals with the businessmen who somehow managed that the NAB make no official mention of the specific charges against them and the entire evidence collected in the course of investigation be “dismembered”. Sultan Lakhani and his brother Amin Lakhani, who is also Honorary Consul-General of Singapore, were arrested on May 8, 2000 by the NAB wing of the ISI. Amin was released after a few days, but Sultan spent another nine months in various NAB detention centres and Adyala prison before his lawyer and the present Attorney-General of Pakistan, Makhdoom Ali Khan, reached an agreement with the then NAB chairman. NAB officials privately concede that in case of Sultanally Lakhani and other key directors of the Lackson Group of Companies, the then NAB leadership had not applied the legally tenable practise of plea bargain and instead had decided to supervise a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Lakhani brothers and various financial institutions. They further said they were looking that how such a deal had been made. Was there a helping hand or was it done innocently?

    Sliding down from its initial demand of Rs7 billion, the NAB agreed with Makhdom Ali Khan advocate of the Lakhani brothers that they pay an amount of Rs1.5 billion to the lenders in 10 years. The NAB agreed that in the MOU that the Lakhani brothers would not accept any guilt in the document and instead the MOU would reflect them as buyers of assets of nine companies in exchange for the payment of liabilities. The NAB had found, in its investigation, that all these companies were actually front for the Lakhani brothers, who consistently denied the charge. Furthermore, the NAB agreed to withdraw its reference against Sultan Lakhani and various co-accused, including the senior executives of the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan who had extended the loans without proper securities and background checks. The NAB investigators were also asked to stop probe against nine other companies of the same group. The investigators were also told to return the collected evidence to the respective financial institutions. The accused persons who benefited from the NAB deal included Sultan Ali Lakhani, Iqbal Ali Lakhani, Zulfiqar Ali Lakhani, Amin Muhammad Lakhani, Sahibzada Naushad Ahmed, M Muneer Adenwalla, Hassan Ali Merchant, Tasleemuddin Batlay, Aziz Ebrahim (Lakson Group), Anjum Naveed (General Manager M/s Project Development Services), Muhammad Sirajul Hassan (former chief officer at Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan’s regional office in Karachi), Khalid Mehmood Nagra, Syed Mehboob Hussain (office in-charge of the IDBP) and Rehan A Siddiqi (Manager Documentation Department of IDBP, Karachi. NAB officials said that after much pressing the Lakhani brothers had only paid Rs200 million and were now clearly avoiding the payment of remaining Rs1.3 billion. Irfan Iqbal Puri, who used to be a key middleman between the country’s top buyers of petroleum products and the Middle Eastern suppliers, made the single largest payment of Rs235 million to the NAB following his three-month-long interrogation by the NAB investigators, who apparently confronted him with the evidence allegedly showing kickbacks and commissions received from the Middle Eastern suppliers, who allegedly compromised quality and quantity of petroleum products sold to Pakistan.

    At the time of his release Puri, NAB officials said, pledged to pay a total sum of Rs300 million, but subsequently he refused to make the final instalment of Rs65 million and instead confronted the NAB with a lawsuit claiming the return of Rs235 million that he had already paid to the NAB. In Puri’s case the NAB downplayed its agreement with him to an extent that no official announcement was made about the plea bargain deal. At the same time, the NAB withheld its evidence and findings against Puri from any public and legal scrutiny, a measure that has now become the strongest argument in the Puri’s case against the NAB. NAB officials said that the plea bargain deals are meant to recover the looted money in exchange for some grace to the accused persons who get the benefit of not going through the public trial and exposure of their misdeeds in public.

    But the process is attracting some criticism, as it allows the senior NAB officials to exercise their discretion in settling the amount for the plea bargain. In Irfan Puri, Usman farooqi and Admiral Mansurul Haq cases the money recovered by the NAB may match their ill-gotten wealth, but in some cases some key suspects won their freedom at a cheap cost. For instance Huzoor Buksh Khalwar, a former Karachi Metropolitan director, who was arrested after a NAB investigation found that he had allegedly amassed wealth to the tune of hundreds of millions of rupees, was set free after a brief (according to the NAB standards) three months’ confinement and a nominal payment of Rs16 million. Khalwar was one of the beneficiaries of a Rs600 million octroi fraud unearthed in the KMC in 1998. NAB officials privately acknowledged that the plea bargain deal with Khalwar could not be counted as one the best deals the NAB has struck with the country’s most corrupt bureaucrats. REFERENCE: NAB in tight corner as businessmen refuse to pay dues By Kamran Khan

    KARACHI: The Independent Media Corporation (Private) Ltd. (Geo TV Network) and the Independent Music Group (SMC Private) have served a legal notice on Sultan Ali Lakhani, the Editor in Chief, Printer and Publisher of the daily Express. The notice was sent for printing false and concocted stories about the deal struck between the Independent Media Group, the Independent Music Group and Pakistan Television over the rights to telecast the upcoming Champions Trophy and World Cup which will be shown on Geo TV’s new sports channel, Geo Super. The notice demands that an apology be published within seven days and be given the same prominence as the original news items.

    The news items published in the Express gave the impression that Geo gained a hefty financial profit by striking this deal and that PTV lost heavily in the process. The truth is that had the deal not been struck, the tournaments would have only been beamed on Geo. Geo and PTV signed the agreement in the greater national interest because cable TV is not available in some smaller towns and villages in the country. There are many examples of such collaboration between private and state-owned channels. The same formula was applied in this case too. PTV was given two options and the corporation chose the one that suited it. There was an agreement on this option and a deal was signed. As a result, PTV viewers will now be able to watch these two important tournaments and the corporation will be able to reap profits too. It must be mentioned that a PTV spokesman had pointed out the benefits of the deal and said that it would be a profitable one. The Express in its report on the deal did not approach Geo for its version and failed to mention the PTV spokesman’s statement on the subject which reflects its unprofessional and mala fide intentions.

    The reports published in the Express also claimed that PTV would be forced to show the Geo logo, which is simply untrue. It may be mentioned that it was PTV that approached Geo in connection with the agreement. In any case, Geo being such a popular channel does not need the support of PTV to project itself. It is testament to Geo’s popularity that it has won numerous national and international awards in its short existence. This includes an award from the largest and most prestigious TV and radio organisation, The National Broadcasters Association. Geo’s coverage of the recent elections and its ability to show the results earlier than other channels won it plaudits from the Journal of Mass Communications. According to Gallup, Geo is the best and most watched Pakistani satellite channel. The prestigious New York Times has stated that Geo has changed the entire media scene in Pakistan. The Pakistan Advertising Association presented Geo with the best Electronic Mass Media award. Geo also won a special award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. The channel is also the only Pakistani channel to receive the CNN Young Journalist Award. A number of newspapers and channels— including the New York Times, Washington Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Gulf News, Times of India, The Hindu, Aaj Tak, Kyodo, and Al-Jazeera – have made positive references to Geo and have praised its distinctive style.

    In view of all these points, we believe that the false, baseless and mala fide reports about Geo are motivated solely by vendetta. The group’s associated newspapers, Jang and The News, have in the past printed stories about the dark deeds of the publisher of The Express which have never been contradicted. Among the news printed were items about the large bank loan defaults, arrest by NAB, fleeing the country, the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee etc. Lakhani was arrested by NAB in connection with certain cases. Among the allegations on which stories were published were the case of taking and defaulting on huge loans for a granite and marble processing plant, tax and excise fraud, hiding foreign properties, the smuggling of 11 containers, causing huge losses to PTCL, etc. There were also reports that Lakhani set up fictitious companies and borrowed huge amounts from banks in this connection. The News, in April 2004 published a story stating that he agreed to pay 1.5 billion rupees worth of loans but only paid 200 million. In July 2006, The News published a story about the PAC proceedings regarding Lakhani’s loan default. It was clear from all these reports that the Lakhanis were spreading their business through public funds and were not paying back loans taken from the banks and other financial institutions, which caused a huge loss to the national exchequer. REFERENCE: Legal notice to Sultan Lakhani for publishing concocted stories Wednesday, October 11, 2006 News Desk

    KARACHI: While the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) made an official confirmation to the Lakhani family in Karachi about the arrest of Sultan Ali Lakhani on a wide range of criminal charges Tuesday evening, official word was still awaited until Tuesday night about the whereabouts of Sultan’s younger brother, Amin Lakhani. Leading businessman Amin Lakhani also runs the Karachi operation of the fast food chain, McDonald’s. Beside running the McDonald’s franchise in Karachi, the Lakhani brothers run Lakson Tobacco Company, a textile unit, an internet company called the Cybernet and Century Publications. Sources informed the News Intelligence Unit (NIU) that the Lakhnis are now being questioned on alleged charges that include: questionable loans worth hundreds of crores of rupees for setting up granite and marble processing plants; bank default; evasion of excise duty; concealment of foreign property; links with the smuggling of 11 containers case; causing huge revenue losses to PTCL through illegal termination of long distance calls and financial dealings with Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari. REFERENCE: Lakhani brothers in NAB hands

  4. Hashwanis and Lakhanis are competitors

    Unethical Behavior of Express News TV Pakistan.

  5. headlines feed…

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