The News Publishes All Manner of Contradictions on Front Page

Mar 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Jang, The News

The News (Jang Group)Following the release of Raymond Davis per the orders of the court and under the Islamic law, The News published several stories on the front page related to the case. Actually, so many stories were squeezed into the page that it appears as if every employee of Jang Group was given the space to voice his opinion. However since many of the articles are anonymous it is impossible to know if these are simply the same writers repeating themselves. One curious item, however, is the amount of contradictory information that editors allowed to be published ensuring that readers of The News will be more confused than ever about the facts of the case.

The top headline story by Numan Wahab titled, ‘CIA killer walks free’, reports that there is some confusion over who has paid out the blood money to the families.

In another mystifying twist, a report in the US media has claimed within hours that the blood money of about US$2.3m was actually paid out by the Pakistan government on the understanding that the US would ‘reimburse the amount later at an opportune moment’. The report gained credence from the statements made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department spokesperson with both emphasizing that “The US had not paid any Diyat”. The questions remains, if the US didn’t pay up the Diyat as proven before the court, then who did?

However an article by Tahir Khalil on the very same page features the title, ‘Blood money paid from govt fund’.

The compensation money paid to the heirs of two slain Pakistani nationals — Faizan and Faheem — who were shot dead at the Qartaba Chowk, Lahore, by CIA contractor Raymond Davis on January 27, was paid from the government’s funds.

Unfortunately, Tahir Khalil offers no evidence to support this claim whether it is true or it is untrue. Perhaps this is why Numan Wahab did not include this in his own report? It should also be asked why both of these contradictory reports exist side by side on the front page. Does Jang Group not have editors to examine material before it is printed?

But this is not the only problem that appears on the front page. In the same article by Tahrir Khalil the reporter tells the figures of payment made, including that the widow of Faizan initially refused Rs25 million and was paid Rs50 million. But an anonymous article also featured on the same page titled, ‘Diyat payment: who got what?’ gives different figures entirely.

Here’s who got what of the blood money: Faheem’s heirs: Father Rs11.1 million, mother Rs33.3 million, two sisters Rs5.55 million each, and four brothers, a total of Rs11.1 million Faizan’s heirs: Mother Rs33.3 million, widow Rs20.5 million, three brothers Rs7500,000 each, five sisters Rs3,787,000 each.

Which is right? It is unknown at this time what is the exact figure, but it is certainly known that readers of The News will be confused on the issue as the proper fact-checking was not carried out and different articles on the same page present different versions of the facts.

Other curiousities include the statement by Ansar Abbasi that legal experts dispute the resolution in his own column titled, ‘We have sold ourselves, once again’.

A legal expert and ex-judge of the Lahore High Court recently told this correspondent that in his view and as per the Peshawar High Court decision the case of Raymond Davis did not fall in the category where it could be settled under Qisas and Diyat law.

But on the same front page of the same newspaper, another article titled, ‘Decision on Davis defended’, quotes legal experts explaining that the case was properly resolved.

Eminent lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said the decision had been made in accordance with Pakistani law. Linguistics expert Dr Tariq Rehman said that Raymond Davis was a citizen of the US, which is an ally of Pakistan. He said if Davis was a spy, then it is not a big issue as allies often send spies to countries for information exchange. He said the issue stands resolved now after payment of Diyat to the heirs of the victims. He said the issue was between the ISI and CIA, which now stands resolved.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, in a TV programme, said the country’s laws and Shariah allowed the families of the victims to pardon the accused after receiving Diyat. He said the court had called all the heirs of the victims in person to confirm that there was no pressure on them to accept the blood money.

It is worth noting also that the legal experts who have defended the handling of the case by the court are willing to give their names and make their statements on the public record whereas Ansar Abbasi’s supposed ‘legal experts’ are as per usual anonymous and cannot be confirmed to exist.

The News on Thursday morning featured no fewer than 12 front page stories about the Raymond Davis case. Yet despite so many articles, the readers of the newspaper will actually be less informed and more confused after taking in so many contradictory and questionable pieces. Such incidents should raise immediate questions about whether The News is actually providing any value to the public or if it is only stoking confusion and division among the people. Rather than publishing every contradictory opinion and prediction possible, The News should engage its reporters to perform actual investigating and fact-checking, and then publish what can be verified only.

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