Posts Tagged ‘judiciary’

Ansar Abbasi Pakistani media jihadist

Monday, April 8th, 2013


Ansar Abbasi has done it again. In order to follow his Ziaist/Jihadist political agenda, Ansar Abbasi in the following clip from Hamid Mir’s show “Capital Talk” from April 4th 2013 clearly identifies how article 62 and 63, which are under a lot of criticism, are “fair”.

In this instance, Ansar Abbasi tries to justify the rejection of Ayaz Amir’s papers for candidacy for National Assembly seat by saying that provision (d) of article 62 clearly says if someone violates Islamic injunctions, he is not eligible. When Hamid Mir and Ayaz Amir (the latter had joined the show via telephone) clarified that column under consideration was an article originally written in English and then was translated to Urdu, Ansar Abbasi jumped to provision (h) of article 62 and said the candidate should not be opposed to the ideology of Pakistan and implied that Ayaz Amir was in violation since he has numerous articles out that do not agree with the “ideology of Pakistan”. It was clear that Ansar Abbasi, as always, had no clue what he was talking about and when he was proven wrong on one thing, he jumped to another point simply to try and win the argument. We are not against Ansar Abbasi holding an opinion but clearly, this was no opinion. This is an ideological agenda which Ansar Abbasi has been pursuing for a while.

We would request someone to please got tell Ansar Abbasi that ideology of Islam (which he mentioned was La-Illaha-Illalah) can not be so easily defined under the constitutional and Pakistani context. As Ayaz Amir explained a day later in his column:

And what is called the ideology of Pakistan, what is it? Nothing more or less than the ideology of Iqbal, the ideology of Jinnah as set forth, when he spoke from his heart without a prepared text, in his Aug 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly. Any other interpretation amounts to undermining and indeed subverting what they stood for

It is also ironic that Ansar Abbasi talks about article 62/63 when in fact his journalism has been under fire for lies and he has twisted facts and history in defense of militants as previously covered by Pakistan media Watch team. Why is it that we were unable to find a single column of Ansar Abbasi asking for stricter implementation of article 62/63 in 2002, during Musharraf referendum? Or is it applicable only to hound the political class of today? Ansar Abbasi’s love for Jihadism has been clear from the very beginning. A couple of such instances are when he defended Mumtaz Qadri or when he termed the killers of women and children as “Islamic warriors” in his columns and then published them for the masses to read. Not to mention, his extremist sympathies are well documented as well.

It is important to mention that we are not against Ansar Abbasi holding an opinion; he has every right to his point of view. Our concern is Ansar Abbasi showing his opinions as facts to the awam and Jang group giving him space for such views. The question now is whether Jang/Geo group is continuing to project these views out of ideological sympathy, or are they using Ansar Abbasi as their Media Taliban in a proxy war against the political class? These are the facts. You decide.

The Nation misrepresents Bilawal’s statements…again

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The Nation (Nawa-e-Waqt Group)Even before his full entry into the political arena, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is already facing media attacks usually reserved for more seasoned political veterans. The Nation on Tuesday lobbed a rather serious attack against the young PPP Chairman, terming his attitude as ‘defiant’ and claiming that he has ‘attempted to threaten the judiciary from the safety of New York’. Has the young PPP Chairman decided to enter politics on the path of confrontation? It turns out that comparing what Bilawal actually said to the way it was described by The Nation, however, one can’t help but wonder if the editors actually knew what Bilawal had said.

According to The Nation, Bilawal struck a defiant tone and declared that the executive would disobey the Supreme Court.

This defiant attitude shows that the Co-Chairman is of a mould that supports the party policy of protecting a single individual from the consequences of his actions, even if that means one organ of the state, the Executive, refusing to do what another, the Judiciary, tells it to, even both are duty-bound to do so.

Actually, Bilawal’s speech which lasted almost 20 minutes included less than three minutes of discussion about the judiciary. Here is what Bilawal actually said:

We believe a truly independent and impartial judiciary is a fundamental component to a democratic Pakistan. This is why we respect the majesty of justice and accept the rulings of the Supreme Court despite reservations. We will not violate the Vienna Convention. We will not violate the Constitution of Pakistan. If this Court sees it fit to do so; if this Court insists on trying the grave of Shaheed Mohtama Benazir Bhutto; to repeat the mistakes of history; to refuse to redeem itself for the role it played in the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then the ultimate decisions will lie in the court of history, and the court of the people.

The Pakistan People’s Party must set the precedent for democratic governments to come, and we will therefore continue to follow the principles of democracy and the principles of justice, whether we agree or disagree with the Supreme Court.

While we can agree to disagree on whether justice is being done, we must all agree that a basic principle of justice is not only that justice should be done, but justice should be seen to be done. The judiciary in Pakistan will never build its reputation as a truly independent and impartial judiciary if there are double standards.

It is highly inappropriate, for instance, that in the case of the Chief Justice’s own son, the investigator, the prosecutors, and the judges who will hear the case are cherry picked by the Court. My hope is that the Court will find its rightful role and carry out its duties in such a way that it restores its institution’s credibility. If the Court cannot, or if the Court will not, we the people must call for judicial reforms needed in a mature democracy.

This is much different from the way his speech was represented in The Nation‘s editorial. Rather than supporting “policy of protecting a single individual from the consequences of his actions” or “refusing to do what another, the Judiciary, tells it to”, Bilawal said precisely the opposite. He called for a single standard of justice to be applied uniformly to all citizens, and that justice should be truly independent and impartial.

This instance is especially troubling as it is not the first time that The Nation has misrepresented Bilawal’s own words to make a political attack against him. Journalists have a responsibility to verify by checking facts and sources – even if they don’t support their target’s politics.

While we understand that there is no love lost between the editors of The Nation and the PPP, we do believe that the media should at least refrain from putting words in Bilawal’s mouth. Since the editorial begins by noting that they are responding to what Bilawal “is reported to have told a party convention”, this could be a case of misunderstanding. But that is simply not good enough for a major media group like Nawa-i-Waqt.

Tweeting Birds, Judiciary and Accountability

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

When the Chief Justice took suo motu notice of allegations that his son Arsalan is involved in a corruption scandal, several high-profile journalists commented that the action was “a direct result of Twitter”. We will refrain from comment about the likelihood that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is deciding the docket based on social media, but we do think that this raises serious ethical questions about the behavior of some journalists in their use of social media.

We have noticed for some time a group of journalists who regularly carry out public discussions with one another on the popular social media website Twitter. What caught our attention was the way many of their discussions involved serious allegations against individuals – including allegations of criminal conduct. These discussion often involve the allusion to “information” from “sources” that proves that such-and-such a person has committed some crime.

We were surprised, then, that these public accusations of criminal acts were not followed up with either a full report exposing the crimes nor any reports to the proper authorities so that the accused could be held accountable for their actions. Rather, there were comments posted on Twitter, sometimes over the course of days or even weeks, that contained rumour and innuendo but no verifiable facts.

The latest episode centers on Twitter discussions of allegations against the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. As noted above, some journalists claimed that this was a result of Twitter discussions.

Shaheen Sehbai told the Sydney Morning Herald that the case against Arsalan is part of a conspiracy against the Chief Justice.

Shaheen Sehbai, group editor of The News, said the case appeared to be a conspiracy to discredit or dislodge the Chief Justice. ”It was a big plan which is almost implemented and is now in the final stage. According to my information, these people have made videos of the Chief Justice’s son taking bribes and spending money provided to him.”

Speaking to Dr Manzur Ejaz on Washington Beat, Sehabi took his claim further and said the judiciary is being targeted by Pakistan People’s Party. Sehbai’s colleague at Jang Group Ahmad Noorani went even further and posted on Twitter that Riaz Malik “was behind all this & trapped & bribed [the Chief Justice’s] son”.

This is a serious allegation, and one that should not be made lightly. It also raises an important question – if Shaheen Sehbai has information about a conspiracy to frame Arsalan in order to discredit the Chief Justice, does he not have a professional obligation to publish this information? Why has it not appeared in his own newspaper? More to the point, does he not have an ethical or legal obligation to file a FIR against the alleged plotters? Instead, we simply get gossip 140 characters at a time.

On 6th June, the Supreme Court published a press release saying that “various TV talk shows reported the allegation of some business deal between Malik Riaz Hussain (Business Tycoon) and Dr. Arsalaan Iftikhar son of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan, with a view to influence the judicial process”. Since the Supreme Court acknowledges that this group of TV talk show hosts has been reporting this allegation, should they not be compelled to appear before the Court to explain the evidence behind their reports which sparked the case in the first place?

In 2010, media reports caused the Supreme Court to another emergency hearing in the Supreme Court also based on allegations that a conspiracy was being hatched against the judiciary. That episode resulted in what Farrukh Khan Pitafi termed Media’s Moment of Shame. Will this shameful episode be repeated? Or will those making public accusations of crime and conspiracy be brought before the court to show their evidence so that the case can be closed once and for all? The credibility of the national media may be at stake.

Farrukh Saleem: Journalist or Political Activist?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)The Supreme Court’s decision against Prime Minister Gilani on Friday resulted in no small amount of confusion for many very capable barristers. Not so for Jang Group journalist Farrukh Saleem who used his column space in The News on Sunday to term the Prime Minister as a criminal. Farrukh Saleem, however, may tell us more about himself than the target of his own contempt.

Saleem begins by terming the Prime Minister an ‘ex-con’ based on his having been convicted by the Supreme Court of contempt and completing his 30-second sentence. But even in the very first paragraph the author’s argument begins to run into problems. According to Farrukh Saleem, the dictionary defines a convict as a “person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court.”

The Prime Minister, however, was never charged with a crime. According to Dawn, “The bench of the Supreme Court had charged the prime minister with civil contempt, instead of judicial or criminal contempt”. If the Prime Minister was not charged with a crime, how could he be convicted of such? Such mischaracterisations raise the question whether Farrukh Saleem is trying to have an honest discussion about the Prime Minister’s case, or whether he has some other agenda.

Actually, facts do not appear to have been the purpose of Farrukh Saleem’s article, anyway, as is evidenced by his second paragraph in which the author proposes his own sentence against the Prime Minister:

The ‘ex-con’ label, in the world outside the Land of the Pure, attracts lifelong implications including social stigma, vilification, societal and employment discrimination. Social stigma is when society thinks that a particular person has done something “really bad”. Social stigma is the “severe disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of” criminality. As a consequence there are severe consequences including being branded for life, employment plus loan discrimination. All in all, these are all societal measures to discourage such behaviour.

The author then writes something that suggests the Prime Minister alone is not his target:

Plus, the day the Supreme Court found the PM guilty of a crime saw a PPP candidate winning in Multan PP-194 by-elections.

What does the success of Usman Bhatti in PP-194 by-elections have to do with the Prime Minister’s contempt case? Is it the case that Farrukh Saleem is upset not because he believes the Prime Minister did not receive harsh enough punishment, but because a certain political party continues to succeed at the polls?

The answer may be found in Farrukh Saleem’s concluding paragraph in which he explains his own theory of ‘journalism’.

Law does not belong to the courts alone, the Pakistani society-and the voter-must also vilify and discriminate against the behaviour and actions that have been declared as being criminal or illegal by the courts.

The author appears to be boldly suggesting that voters should punish the PPP as a whole because the Prime Minister was convicted on a charge of civil contempt in a complicated and controversial case. Farrukh Saleem starts his column by mischaracterising the Prime Minister’s case, and then uses this mischaracterisation to request voters to punish the Prime Minister’s party at the polls. This is not journalism, it’s political activism.

Kamran Khan’s Contempt For Objectivity

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Geo TV‘s Kamran Khan could not have expected what happened when he invited Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira as his guest on Wednesday to discuss the possible outcomes of contempt charges against the Prime Minister.

For our dear readers who do not understand Urdu, please allow me to offer an explanation. This clip begins with Kamran Khan asking the Information Minister for his views on whether the Supreme Court would acquit the Prime Minister. But Minister Kaira had something he wanted to say first.

My views later, but let’s first discuss the initial 18 minutes of your programme. The way you conducted your show – aiming at PM’s sons, family, his character – you have already declared him a convict, and are asking me this question after giving your opinion.

You are giving your opinion first and then asking me about my views, knowing that it’s not the anchor’s right to give his or her opinion first. Your right is asking questions. You already created a mindset in your audience – a biased mindset, that is – before even asking me my views.

You also showed a few clips from Chief Justice speeches in the beginning that were “assumptive”. – “If”, “In-case”, “this could happen”, “about to be give verdict” etc. You didn’t say anything, and yet you said a lot of things. In all your conversation, you kept the thrust on showing that he is a sinner and verdict has already been declared against him. Is this all not an influence on the court that is going to decide tomorrow? Is this not an attempt to bias the court?

The way you talked about my PM, I listened with a lot of patience. I listened to you for 18 mins defaming my party leader and the PM and I didn’t say a word so please let me speak. PM is appearing in front of the court tomorrow and you lay special emphasis on this when you said that “this has become a habit of the PM” and that “I will not accept this decision” even though the PM never once said this. I am completely negating your statement and saying that PM never said anything like that. He has always said, “I respect the court”. His lawyer inside the court mentioned that whatever you decide here will be implemented upon to the fullest.

The way you thrust forward your views is similar to bending facts and distorting them. You build up your opinion in front of viewers and this is a very unacceptable. We go and fight our cases in the courts; we don’t fight with the courts.

Kaira’s complaint about Kamran Khan’s behaviour may seem like the frustrations of a PPP Minister, but they might also be familiar to another high profile figure who is anything but a jiyala. Five years ago, Kamran Khan was playing the same role of media creating a biased mindset in the audience only this time his target was not the PM, but Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself.

We have noted several times the importance of media acting responsibly and not attempting to influence the outcome of a case or to create a biased mindset in the public before the Court has made its decisions. Opposition supporters may be enjoying the media’s keeping the PM in their sights today, but the PPP won’t be the party in power forever. And when the tables turn, well, just ask the Chief Justice…

Rumour Laundering and the Courts

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The News reports on Wednesday that LHC has been petitioned to investigate the Punjab government’s laptop scheme and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif are respondents in the petition. According to the news report,

The petitioner submitted that as per a report of the Transparency International the laptop scheme launched by Shahbaz Sharif would cause a loss of Rs1.70 billion to the national exchequer.

However there is no such report of Transparency International about the laptop scheme. So what is the petitioner actually referring to? It appears that the petition may actually be based on anonymous claims in a media report.

We noted last week that the alleged TIP report is actually nothing but the statement of TIP Advisor Adil Gilani that he had read something in the media, and that the way the media transformed the headlines to imply that Transparency International Pakistan had done some actual research beyond buying a copy of Daily Times amounted to something like allegation laundering.

The effect of media being used to launder rumours are on full display with this new petition before LHC. Why did the petitioner mention Transparency International and not the original report by Adnan Adil which makes no mention of Transparency International or any other credible source? Would the Court be so moved by a petition that said, ‘anonymous claims in a news report’? Or will the Court be misled to believe that the Transparency International Pakistan advisor Adil Gilani has done anything but tell journalists that he read a newspaper story?

Laundering allegations is unprofessional because it can mislead the people into believing that rumours are facts. When the people being misled are judges, though, this raises the question of whether the courts are being manipulated by someone with an agenda. That’s not journalism, it’s propaganda.

Historical Revisionism

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”. History will not be so kind to another Prime Minister, not if Ansar Abbasi (Jang Group) writes it. In fact, Ansar Abbasi has decided that rather than way for events to actually play out, he’s going to to go ahead and write history now. Of course, that’s not history at all – it’s just predictions coloured by wishful thinking.

On the front page of The News and Daily Jang on Monday, Ansar Abbasi writes that “Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani would make history today (Monday), not as a hero but as a villain”.

Now, if your first reaction to this is, “Wait…that’s not reporting facts, that’s just Ansar Abbasi’s opinion”, then congratulations – you are correct. But Jang Group publishing opinions instead of news is an old story. So let’s take a look at exactly what leads Abbasi to his opinion and see if he is at least giving readers all the facts so that they can make an informed decision about whether Abbasi’s harsh judgment is warranted.

According to Ansar Abbasi, “The Supreme Court had given him all possible opportunities to uphold rule of law by implementing the apex court’s order in the NRO case but Gilani has opted to be remembered as a loyal to his soiled party leadership”. This is certainly one interpretation of events. But there is interpretation that Ansar Abbasi conveniently ignores – one actually based in the constitution.

The Prime Minister has said continually that he has not written a letter requesting the Swiss authorities to open corruption cases against the president because he has been advised that to do so would be in violation of Article 248.

It should be noted that PM Gilani is not trained as a lawyer – his educational background is as a journalist. But being a lawyer is not a requirement for being Prime Minister. Actually, there is the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs which tenders advice to all the Federal Government on legal and constitutional questions.

In this case, the Prime Minister was advised by the Ministry of Law that writing the letter would be a violation of Article 248 of the Constitution, which says that, “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office”. This is advice that his attorney, Aitzaz Ahsan, has confirmed and argued before the Court.

Essentially, the Supreme Court is ordering the PM to act against the advice of the Ministry of Law under threat of contempt – something legal experts have described as a ‘contempt trap’

If one were to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused in the instance of Gilani’s contempt proceedings, one could see that Gilani has fallen victim to a type of contempt trap. The court has continued to demand that Gilani write a letter to Swiss authorities, asking for Pakistan to be reinstated as a party to the money laundering case against President Zardari. However, under Article 248 of the Constitution, Zardari enjoys immunity from all prosecutions while he is sitting as President of Pakistan.

During the recent hearings, Aitzaz Ahsan went so far as to say that the Swiss authorities had been contacted by government and they have chosen not to pursue a case against Zardari, respecting his immunity under the Pakistani constitution. The court was perhaps frustrated to hear this information so late in the game, after so many requests from the Prime Minister to explain his position and to show that his government took the court’s orders seriously.

Despite the fact that the court’s order to reopen the Swiss cases is no longer likely or possible, they are continuing in their contempt hearings against the Prime Minister. This is remarkable because the court is essentially asking the Prime Minister to violate Article 248, which the Prime Minster cannot do as a sworn member of Parliament, and thus invoking his contempt of the court proceedings.

Others have noted that Article 248 does not only provide immunity to the President, but provides qualified immunity to the Prime Minister.

The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions

Despite these assessments, the Prime Minister has not questioned the Supreme Court’s right to hear the case nor attempted to create a political issue out of the case. Rather, he has appeared before the Supreme Court not once but twice – ironically, making history as the first Prime Minister to show such respect to the judiciary where past Prime Ministers have chosen to storm the Supreme Court.

Nor did the Prime Minister request the president to remove the justices as was done by Gen. Mushararaf. Actually, Gilani’s first act as Prime Minister was to release from house arrest those judges who had been detained by Gen. Musharraf.

Unfortunately, none of these historical facts appears in Ansar Abbasi’s front page column. Instead, he quickly moves away from the facts of the case at hand and resorts to repeating claims like, “corruption of Rs8,500 billion has been recorded during these four years as per the Transparency International’s assessment”. We have searched the TI website and have been unable to find any such assessment. Perhaps Ansar Abbasi is referring to his previous articles that have already been discredited.

In the past, history was often written by the victors. With the spread of the printing press, competing histories became written by different sides. With the advent of the Internet, this has become even more the case. Histories can be found that are written from all sides and perspectives – winners, losers, and bitter old men. Certainly Ansar Abbasi will have his own view of history, and that is his right. But facts are facts, and we hope that in the future, Jang Group will seek to include more facts and less biased opinion.

Pakistan’s journalists abandoned by the courts

Friday, January 13th, 2012

This week marked a dark day in the history of Pakistani journalism. The last refuge of justice in our country closed the door to the journalist community, and sent a message loud and clear that Pakistan’s journalists have no rights when faced with threats from powerful quarters. We are referring, of course, to the judicial whitewashing of the murder of Saleem Shahzad.

It is ironic that so much has been made lately of Article 19A, the right to information, which should be a shield of protection for journalists in a nation with a supposedly free media, and yet it is apparent that the right to expose who is murdering journalists in this country and why has been set aside for reasons unstated. Rather than exposing the Saleem Shahzad’s killers and sending a message to those who would threaten and kill other journalists, the judicial commission instead found no culprits, only suggested a payment of Rs3 Million to Shahzad’s widow. Now we know the value of a journalist in Pakistan – about the cost of two Corollas.

Writing in The News today, senior journalist and former secretary Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Mazhar Abbas notes that journalists are effectively on our own.

“The authorities are not taking the issue seriously enough, particularly in cases where the “intelligence agencies” come into the equation. Therefore, Pakistani journalists need to fight their own cases with the effective support of their unions.”

This state of affairs has serious consequences not only for the lives of individual journalists, but for the security of the nation itself. Director current affairs at Dunya TV Nasim Zehra on Thursday proposed that “a vibrant media can thwart a coup” by ensuring that,

…the moves of all power players — government, politicians, army, and now the judiciary — are examined for historical precedents, legality, constitutionality, double standards; and whether they are based on individual, institutional, party or national interests.

Unfortuantely, Nasim’s theory is based on a false premise. Media cannot scrutinise the moves of all power players. Yes, Dunya TV will courageously repeat worn out conspiracy theories about Husain Haqqani while he sits behind heavy security, but following the judicial commission’s failure to find anyone responsible for the killing of Saleem Shahzad?

Having seen that a prominent reporter can be killed with no consequences for those involved is sure to have a chilling effect on the profession. Will those who report critically on the military refrain from doing so in the future for fear that they may end up in a ditch somewhere? The commission has also shown Mr Shahzad’s killers, whoever they may be, that they can operate with impunity.

It is not only Saleem Shahzad who has been killed for reporting information that someone did not like. Zahid Qureshi was tortured and mutilated for his reporting. Umar Cheema was kidnapped and tortured when he reported information that upset someone. Kamran Shafi had his family home strafed with gunfire and received threatening phone calls warning him to stop reporting information that some didn’t like. Samaa TV’s Ghulamuddin and his family have been forced into hiding in their own country. Recently, Hamid Mir has received threats for his reporting. Najam Sethi, who has been the subject of what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of harrassment continues to receive threats for his reporting.

Journalists are not powerless, though. We have the ability to ask difficult questions and press for information that most people are unable or unwilling to. While the nation’s attention is planted squarely on the court, we should take the opportunity to ask, “What about Saleem Shahzad?” What about the rights of the people to information that is supposedly so inalienable? Demanding these answers will not only protect the lives of journalists, it will protect the life of the nation. There are murderers among us, and they must be exposed.

Who is ‘Judicial Executive Panel’ (JEP)?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Earlier this week, Jang Group published a front page story by a mysterious person supposedly named ‘John S Hamilton’ that raised eyebrows as well as many questions. On Wednesday, Jang Group followed up with another story about the memo case that involves another mystery.

The latest media story from Jang Group reports that Judicial Executive Panel (JEP) has criticised Asma Jahangir for defending Husain Haqqani. A short version of the article appeared in The News and a longer version in Daily Jang. What a mystery, though, is the organization – Judicial Executive Panel (JEP). A Google search turns up exactly one reference – the article in The News. So who is this “Judicial Executive Panel (JEP)”?

According to the Urdu piece, the members of JEP are:

Muhammad Irfan
Shehansha Shumail Paracha
Muhammad Hussain
Abu Bakr Siddiq
Shafeeq Chuahan
Zahid Saadiq
Sidrah Chauhdhry
Chauhdry Ahsan
Muhammad Razzaq
Chauhdry Yasin Basheer
Muhammad Saad Shibli
Qaiser Rehman
Muhammad Qaiser Maan
Ahmed Imran Ghaazi
Chauhdry Aftab Majeed
Muhammad Rafaqat Dogar
Muhammad Khalid Arain
Sundus Gul

Very interesting group. Chairing the meeting was Muhammad Azhar Siddique, who you may remember as the attorney who petitioned LHC to ban Facebook. Previously, Muhammad Azhar Siddique has petitioned the Supreme Court to scrap the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act of 1972, and in another case, Muhammad Azhar Siddique petitioned LHC to block the appointment of Sherry Rehman to the post of Ambassador to the US, saying she

had presented a bill in the national assembly to make amendments in the blasphemy law (Section 295-C of PPC) and by doing so she had become disqualified under Article 62 of the constitution

The petition was dismissed.

The English medium piece for The News is one paragraph only, criticising Asma Jahangir and saying Husain Haqqani should come out and face the people if he is not guilty. In the Urdu piece for Daily Jang, though, Muhammad Azhar Siddique speaks much more strongly, terming Husain Haqqani a traitor who is hiding in the PM house and daring him to come out and face the people.

Since day one of the new year, Jang Group‘s publications have featured a steady stream of stories attacking the government, their lawyers, and even human rights activists who question whether everything to do with the curious memo case are above board and exactly as they appear. There was the unexplained front page article by a mysterious foreigner who criticised “such heinous crimes against the state”. And now mysterious legal groups headed by right-wing lawyers are appearing from thin air and being quoted by Jang Group strongly condemning people as traitors before any charges have even been brought!

All media groups make mistakes. This is not an excuse, but a reality. But when a pattern of “mistakes” begins to appear in which supposed “news” reporting takes the shape of attempts to influence the public about the proper outcome of a case, one has to ask whether there is an attempt being made to substitute a media trial for a judicial commission.

The News for the Prosecution

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The News (Jang Group)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..