Tariq Butt and Ansar Abbasi play Prosecutor and Judge Against PML-N

Aug 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Jang, The News

The News (Jang Group)In today’s issue of The News the grand inquisitor of media Ansar Abbasi plays judge and jury against PML-N following a FIR accusing certain persons of trying to rig by-polls in NA-100. His verdict is based on a prosecution delivered by his colleague, Tariq Butt.

At issue are allegations of poll-rigging in the NA-110 Gujranwala by elections.

Yesterday, Tariq Butt reported on alleged incidents at the poll based on sources at the scene including police. While his report is largely a simple re-telling of the story as reported by sources, the article carries the sensational headline: “Inside story of how a poll was rigged, and saved”. This headline accepts that there was some misdeed – poll rigging – without allowing the proper course of justice to take place. A more appropriate headline would be “Allegations of poll rigging” or “Accusations of poll rigging mar by elections in NA-110”.

Despite a lack of proof or allowing the proper process of justice to take place, self-appointed judge and jury Ansar Abbasi accepts the prosecutorial headline of Tariq Butt’s column and declares a verdict as the ECP has asked to lodge a FIR.

FIR stands for “First Information Report” and is a report prepared by police when they receive information about an alleged incident. It is, as the title of the report says, first information only. It is not a conviction nor is it any proof of misdeeds.

But the way Ansar Abbasi reports the situation, a reader is likely to come away accepting that the accused are guilty and already convicted.

To the great embarrassment of the PML-N, the Election Commission of Pakistan has asked the Punjab election commissioner to lodge an FIR with the police against the persons who tried to rig the by-polls in NA-100, Gujranwala.

Vindicating the role played by the recently removed Regional Police Officer (RPO) Zulfikar Cheema, who faced the wrath of the N-League for not allowing rigging in the by-polls won by the PPP, the ECP has decided to proceed against those who had kidnapped the presiding officers or tried to tamper with the election results.

While it would be appropriate to report that allegations have been made and that the ECP is pursuing an investigation, the presumption of guilt on the part of PML-N is inappropriate. Both the headline of Tariq Butt’s column yesterday and the content of Ansar Abbasi’s column today cross the line between reporting facts and making presumptions of guilt or innocence. Reporting is the proper role of media, determining guilt is the proper role of courts. Mr Tariq Butt and Mr Ansar Abbasi should restrain themselves for making such presumptions and stick to reporting facts only.

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