Shabbir Mir's Shabby Reporting on BISP

Oct 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Express Tribune

Benazir CardA report in Express Tribune of 24 October lacks the necessary evidence to support the claim of the article. Shabbir Mir’s article, “Jiyalas abound in poverty reduction scheme” alleges that “you have to be a PPP jiyala to get government money…in Gilgit-Baltistan”. This is a serious charge of corruption that should require a minimal level of corroborating evidence. Shabbir Mir provides none.

Rather conducting the research necessary to provide actual statistics on the recipients of government aid, the reporter Shabbir Mir appears to have asked opposition politicians for statements, and then reported them as actual facts.

“I personally distributed about 500 BISP forms among needy people in my constituency, but over 90 per cent of the deserving people have not received any response,” said an embarrassed Hafizur Rehman, regional president of PML-N.

PML-Q lawmaker Mirza Hussain from Hunza-Nagar district said none of his constituents were included among the beneficiaries, saying that to be a recipient, “you have to be involved in jiyalaism”. Muzaffar Rallay, another PML-Q politician from Astore said that the situation in his district was not any different.

Other quotes come from unnamed sources, making it impossible for readers to properly evaluate the person’s position.

“The process is not that transparent,” said a source who has closely monitored the BISP. “You will find more beneficiaries in areas with a strong PPP affiliation, but too few in areas lacking a PPP vote bank,” he said, adding that areas like Amphary, Majini Muhalla, Khomer, Nagar, and Nagral are some of the examples where beneficiaries are in abundance.

Without knowing who this source is that claims to have “closely monitored the BISP”, readers do not know if the person is actually speaking with authority or if he is a political operative who stands to gain from spreading rumours.

And this is really all that exists in Shabbir Mir’s article – rumours.

What is particularly disappointing is that, in the closing paragraphs of his article, Shabbir Mir even says that BISP headquarters is willing to release data including who is actually receiving money under the program. So why did the reporter not wait until this data was received, analyse it, and provide an evidence based report? Instead, Mr Shabbir Mir decided to simply report rumours based on the statements of politicians who have an interest in spreading a particular message.

The efficiency and effectiveness of government programs must be evaluated only on actual facts – not statements from politicians of any party. Especially accusations of corruption and cronyism must be determined by evidence, not rumours. This reporting on poverty reduction schemes by Shabbir Mir is shabby. We expect better.

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