Is The News (Jang Group) reporting on court proceedings or trying to influence an issue that is sub judice? This question must be asked in light of a report by Ahmad Noorani of 31 December, ‘Asma focused on army bashing, not maintainability of petitions.
The short, four paragraph piece in Saturday’s newspaper contains a sensational headline and opening paragraph which can only be read in a way that will influence the readers to believe that Asma Jahangir is anti-military – a dangerous accusation in these times.
Mr Noorani’s article appeared on the same page as another piece that terms the respected international human rights NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’ as taking ‘a highly objectionable and partisan position against the superior judiciary of Pakistan’ after Pakistan Director Human Rights Watch Ali Dayan Hasan expressed concern about the Supreme Court’s verdict. According to The News, the ‘highly controversial statement’ insisted that “all arms of the state must act within their constitutionally determined ambit and in aid of legitimate civilian rule”. Does Jang Group really find the Constitution ‘highly objectionable’?
Just below this piece, in fact, was another piece attacking Human Rights Watch, this time terming it as ‘a foreign organisation working in Pakistan under the cover of human rights’. In an utterly bizarre and inexplicable practice, The News then goes on to quote its source against Human Rights Watch – none other than Mr Ahmad Noorani!
The News goes on to attack the person of Human Rights Watch director Ali Dayan Hasan. After printing his statement:
“No one from the government approached me to issue this press release and it was issued by my organisation considering the fears and threats to constitution, democracy and human rights in Pakistan”
The News injected a rumour that “It was also being said that he had issued this press release on directions of the federal government”. As with very many Jang Group sources, these cannot be verified and The News offers no evidence to support the claims their mysterious ‘sources’.
It should be noted that the person who appears to behind a few of these biased and sensational articles, Ahmad Noorani, has a track record of reporting incorrect information and biased articles attacking the present government.
As the issue of the memo case is presently sub judice, journalists should report only the facts and not attempt to influence proceedings or to anticipate the course of the inquiry or predict the outcome. Let the court do its work. It does not need Jang Group prejudicing the courts statements and decisions and thereby undermining the very independence of the court itself..