An editorial in the Sahafat, New Delhi
(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad)
April 5, 2010
You probably think that currently the Pakistani journalists are busy discussing and analysing the proposed amendments to the Constitution, or reporting on the first big conference of the landless farmers of Pakistan in which the intellectuals and experts expressed their opinions on the plight of farmers and their apprehensions and suggested solutions. Right? Wrong!
For Pakistani media, these affairs are less important than the Shoaib-Sania wedding. Like the Indian media, its Pakistani counterpart, particularly the Urdu and Punjabi media also considers the debates raging on the wedding more important than any other issue.
It seems that the Pakistani electronic media does not have any other topic since the day the Shoaib-Sania marriage was announced. A renowned Urdu journalist of India who regularly writes for Pakistani newspapers, recently sent a detailed report of the 9-hour long grilling of the chief minister of Gujarat by the SIT but to his surprise, he got a message which said,: "What have you sent? Please send something about the controversy involving Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza. That is the most interesting news here." It shows that the Pakistani media has no interest in the fact that for the first time in the history of democratic countries, after the Gujarat riots of 2002 the struggles of an NGO and a wronged widow bore fruit and the chief minister of a state had to be present before an investigative team appointed by the Supreme Court and face questioning for nine long hours.
To the Pakistanis, the news was not 'interesting'. I also got a phone call from a Pakistani TV channel asking if we had a correspondent in Hyderabad and if so, his phone number should be provided to them. On telling them that we did not have a special correspondent in Hyderabad, he asked for the telephone numbers of the Urdu dailies published from there. We helped them with whatever numbers we had but at the same time, out of curiosity, we asked them why they needed the numbers? Was it because they wanted to know about the communal riots which had engulfed the city where the last Friday prayers were offered under police protection.?
The reply was, "No, sir, forget that. Shoaib Malik has arrived at Sania Mirza's house in Hyderabad and we want to show a live telecast of the developments there?" I thought that the Pakistani media had become so bankrupt. We agree that the wedding of Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik is news of public interest because both are star players of their respective countries and sports-lovers are familiar with their names.
But is this marriage more important than the amendments to the Pakistani Constitution under which the entire President's powers are going to be transferred to the Prime Minister.? Is this marriage more important than the problems of the poor landless farmers of Pakistan? Are the wedding celebrations of Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik more important than the massacre of thousands of men and the rape of dozens of women?
It seems that the journalists have forgotten their professional and moral duties altogether. Wisdom has surrendered before moolah. The state of the Indian media is no different. Though people do not want to watch and read only news but want all kind of spicy stuff but that does not mean that the journalists should forget that their first duty is to keep the readers and the viewers abreast of the life and the happenings scattered around them. But regretfully all this has become a thing of the past.
Source: The Sahafat, New Delhi
Sections of Pakistan’s electronic media need to take a close hard look at their priorities and the frivolous manner in which they sometimes operate.
Take, for instance, the tone and tenor of the coverage given to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik’s impending marriage to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza. When the story was first confirmed by the two families it was flashed over and over again as ‘breaking news’.
Later, it was Ms Mirza’s successful attempt to secure a Pakistani visa that dominated the headlines on some television channels. And then came the field days — or appalling lows, depending on your viewpoint — when Mr Malik’s alleged previous marriage to another Indian woman became the news du jour. Coverage of the eventual out-of-court settlement ostensibly involving a divorce was just as sensational and an equally poor advertisement for Pakistani journalism.
In the race for ratings, media ethics, contextual significance and perhaps even common sense were thrown out the window. What we saw on our screens was tabloid journalism of the sort usually purveyed by the dregs of the profession. Media organisations are businesses of course but the ethos of journalism demands that ethics must not be sacrificed at the altar of the bottom line. Good taste also comes into it, though that is a more subjective issue. But consider this: in a country racked by militancy and terrorism, should a celebrity marriage dominate the news on a day when dozens are killed in suicide attacks? Should gossip about what is at best a footnote in the day’s events be deemed more important than the serious socio-political problems facing the country? News involves information, not sordid entertainment, and the line differentiating the two must be redrawn if the industry is to retain its integrity. It is not a news network’s job to titillate its audience or provide the kind of catharsis offered by film or channels dedicated to entertainment.
Yes, the Shoaib-Sania story is news, especially in the context of the strained relations between Pakistan and India. By no stretch of the imagination, however, is it headline news in a country that is struggling to make ends meet.
Hamid Mir: Media Bully
Commercial media giant GEO TV has launched an attack on a small blog in a disturbing case of media bullying as popular TV Host Hamid Mir and investigative editor for The News Ansar Abbasi lashed out against the blog “Let Us Build Pakistan,” a blog of PPP supporters that was started in 2008 and is run on the free service “Blogger.com“.
Unlike Hamid Mir and GEO TV, “Let Us Build Pakistan” bloggers Abdul, Sarah, Abbas Zaidi and Socrates, are quite transparent about their political affiliation and agenda and do not misrepresent their beliefs. Despite the transparency of the bloggers, these commercial media giants have bashed them for being propaganda.
Unfortunately, the commercial media journalists embarrassed themselves when they accused the bloggers at different times during the show of being both puppets of the President and CIA and Mossad. Of course, the so-called journalists present no evidence of these preposterous claims. The journalists also accuse the bloggers of causing a rift between media and military as if “media” were the government. Note to Mr. Mir and Mr. Abbasi: despite your face being on TV, you are not elected by anyone to any office.
Furthermore, while Mr. Mir and Mr. Abbasi make accusations against these bloggers, they fail to report that it is the commercial media giants that are causing a rift between military and civilian government and threatening to destabilize Pakistan during wartime.
In addition to presenting no facts or evidence for their accusations, Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi have engaged in the sort of media bullying that can create a “chilling effect” that results in citizens being afraid to speak their opinions freely. This is a direct assault on the Fundamental Rights of free speech provided in the Constitution.
Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.
Other Pakistani bloggers have begun coming to the defense of “Lets Build Pakistan,” in particular the “Views on Pakistan News”blog by Umair Wasi.
At last media has attacked the websites with all their so called “fair journalism” weapons, last night in capital talk that is hosted by Mr. Hamid Mir on “Geo News” with his 3 guests including Nisar Abbasi a “The News” journalist and Mr. Javaid Hashmi of PML(N) and Sumsam Ali Bukhari of PPP, Hamid Mir has exclusively shown the blog Let Us Build Pakistan maintained by my fellow bloggers Abdul Nishapuri, Socrates, Abbas Zaidi & Sarah, Mr. Hamid Mir and Mr. Nisar Abbasi criticized the blog through out the program with all their white journalism’s’ words, Mr. Hamid Mir highlight the program with the tag of “PPP members criticized army and media” and Mr. Nisar Abbasi added the statement that Let Us Build Pakistan is operated from the presidency.
This is not the first time that media is raising fingers on bloggers and webmasters, but the bloggers are ready to face the situation and will not sit quite at this time it will be dealt accordingly.
GEO TV and The News should immediately reprimand their two employees, Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi, for their irresponsible acts and poor journalistic ethics. Additionally, GEO TV and The Newsshould require Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi to publicly apologize for their unfounded accusations and promise to never again accuse others without presenting any facts.
Poor Mr. Ansar Abbasi – he does not know how to quit while he is ahead. After his very poor showing on Friday, Mr. Abbasi has decided to have another go at writing his “news analysis” about the NRO. The column, “After Sindh card, Zardari uses Benazir,” is Ansar’s attempt at playing judge against President Zardari. Of course, he did not do his homework and is therefore out “LBW” –Learn Before Writing!
Today’s column by Ansar Abbasi is, once again, published as “news analysis.” Even though it is a rather incendiary opinion piece, The News (Jang) has not seen fit to put it properly on the opinion page. This is an unfortunate habit of the The News as it is quite misleading to readers.
But perhaps more unfortunate is the fact that Mr. Ansar Abbasi continues to believe that insulting rants are a proper substitute for research and reason.
Take, for example, his suggestion that, “Legally and constitutionally speaking, there is no way out for the government but to implement the Supreme Court’s order in letter and spirit. But practically if the government does this, it would mean political death of the PPP’s co-chairman against whom the corruption cases are too serious.”
Actually, this is not quite true. The constitution states in Article 248 that certain officials may not be tried while they are in office. Any cases against them will have to be heard once their term is complete.
248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.(1) 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:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.
(2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.
(3) No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or a Governor shall issue from any court during his term of office.
(4) No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or a Governor shall be instituted during his term of office in respect of anything done by or not done by him in his personal capacity whether before or after he enters upon his office unless, at least sixty days before the proceedings are instituted, notice in writing has been delivered to him, or sent to him in the manner prescribed by law, stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom the proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which the party claims.
This is no secret. In fact, it has been stated quite clearly by the government that this is their position. And it is not an unreasonable position, even if it is inconvenient to Ansar Abbasi’s political tirade.The Swiss prosecutor has been adamant about his refusal to reopen a case against Zardari until his term expires.
[Geneva prosecutor Daniel Zappelli] said he can’t reopen the case against Zardari, who was elected president in 2008 after years of battling corruption allegations, because he enjoys “absolute immunity” as a head of state.
“We could go further only if the competent authorities in Pakistan decide to lift the immunity of the head of state, which I do not know whether it is possible according to their constitution,” said Zappelli, speaking in English. “If not, we can’t. Absolutely not. Period.”
Ansar Abbasi then goes on to peddle outrageous rumours including that a major political party was planning to attack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
After the NRO decision, the unnerved PPP was alleged to be even planning physical attacks on the Chief Justice of Pakistan to embarrass Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Money was also reportedly distributed amongst some student leaders of the PSF to organise demonstrations against the judiciary.
If this is true, it is a serious charge that should be taken up with the proper authorities immediately. I ask that Ansar Abbasi immediately file a grievance and reveal his evidence. Otherwise, what are we to think except that he has made the whole thing up?
Also, wasn’t it only three days earlier that this same Ansar Abbasi was condemning a foreign newspaper for quoting an unnamed source? But notice that now Abbasi does not even pretend to have heard his rumour from some “anonymous source.” Rather, he simply says it is “alleged.” Alleged by whom? Surely Ansar Abbasi does not want to be a hypocrite. Please, sir, tell us who your source is for these serious accusations.
Ansar Abbasi’s entire column is actually a poor attempt for him to play judge, jury, and executioner of Asif Zardari. Abbasi says the Supreme Court “is serious to ensure a fair trial of past corruption cases.” Perhaps they are, but Ansar Abbasi sees no need for a fair trial. Instead, he says “Allowing a fair trial to prove his innocence would be a risky gamble that everyone in the party knows is bound to be lost…”
What is the point of bothering with a trial, when Ansar Abbasi has already judged the outcome? This blog takes no position on the issue of Asif Zardari’s guilt or innocence. There is very important legal discussion about Presidential immunity, and even if the President did not enjoy this immunity, surely the courts are the proper place to hold a trial, not the last issue of The News. Perhaps Mr. Abbasi is challenging Shahid Masood to be “Chief Justice of the Media”?
Ansar Abbasi: Challenging Shahid Massod to be Chief Justice of Media?
Ansar closes his opinion by saying that, “Instead of being befooled by political slogans, the people of Pakistan deserve to know if there is any truth in the NAB’s claim…” Perhaps Mr. Abbasi would do us all the favour of ceasing his foolish political sloganeering, then, so that proper journalists can do their work. At the very least, sir, we beg of you…Learn Before Writing!
Just this week I posted about Jang Group’s problem with facts. Now, as if to prove my point, Ansar Abbasi writes an article filled with so many problems and errors that it’s hard to keep them all straight. The article in question appeared in Friday’s issue of The News titled, “SC’s resolve unnerves Presidency; US.”
Immediately from reading the title I began to laugh out loud. Why would the Supreme Court’s ‘resolve’ unnerve the USA? Only recentlywe were being told that the USA had abandoned Zardari, now the US is trying to protect him from the judiciary? Which is it?
Of course, it is no surprise that Ansar gets this confused. He also confuses quite a bit about the Americans. Let’s examine what he writes in his article:
Contrary to what the US media writes about the Pakistani rulers and the widely respected judiciary, the US takes pride in the independence of its judiciary that has not only refused to accept the question of immunity in the case of President Clinton but also did the same in the case of President Nixon.
It was primarily the US media that forced Nixon to resign without being tried or impeached. The US media also ignores the role of Washington and London in the introduction of the widely condemned NRO, which was promulgated to close down corruption cases against a select class of politicians, bureaucrats and past rulers including the incumbent president of Pakistan.
Where to begin? First, Nixon was not forced to resign by the American Supreme Court or the American media. Rather, he chose to resign when he understood that the parliament was going to impeach him.When Nixon knew that he did not have the political support to withstand a vote of impeachment in parliament, he resigned.
Mr. Nixon said he decided he must resign when he concluded that he no longer had “a strong enough political base in the Congress” to make it possible for him to complete his term of office.
Compare this to Clinton, who actually was impeached. But even though he was impeached, he was not removed from office. Again, too, this was a decision by the parliament, not the judiciary or the media.
The first vote was 228 to 206 in favour of impeaching President Clinton for perjury in front of a grand jury. Congressmen also passed another charge on obstruction of justice by 221 to 212.
However, he will not yet be removed from office.
So, we have shown that Ansar is wrong about the US impeachment of Nixon and Clinton. What else is he wrong about?
Interestingly, he is wrong about the NRO and the US. Mr. Abbasi says, “One wonders if the US media would allow the introduction of an NRO-like legislation in its own country.” Actually, the USA did just this after its civil war. The “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction,” gave the President the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
Mr. Abbasi, you must wonder no longer. I have done your research for you and answered your question. You may thank me at a later time.
Not only was Mr. Abbasi wrong about this, but in his own newspaper yesterday, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood remembered history a little bit differently than Ansar might want to admit: “The media welcomed the NRO…” Perhaps Ansar just had a bad memory that day.
Ansar goes on and on with a conspiracy theory about how the US media is being dictated to from Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington. This is ridiculous fantasy. Look at some of the many stories about Pakistan in the American media. Pakistan: A Mounting Problem for Obama, Pakistan attorney general quits amid graft dispute. Was thisdictated by the Embassy also?
Even the Time article that Ansar takes great pains to point out quotes an unnamed PPP leader also quotes an unnamed source from the Supreme Court that supports the Chief Justice.
On the contrary, says a legal expert at the Supreme Court and Chaudhry associate speaking on condition of anonymity, the conflict is caused by the “government [wanting] a chief justice and court which is compliant, not independent.”
Mr. Abbasi does not tell his readers this, though, instead leading many unsuspecting people to believe that the Time article is biased when it is clearly not. Why the dishonesty and hypocrisy?
Now let’s look at Mr. Abbasi’s own newspaper, which on the same day published an article by Shafqat Mahmood that points out that the judiciary has become controversial because of its actions.
There is no better example of this than the perceptions regarding Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the judiciary. On March 9, 2007, Mr Chaudhry became a media and public hero. This happened because of the perception that Musharraf dismissed him illegally and then mistreated him and his family.
Thus began the lawyers’ and people’s campaign for an independent judiciary. This was not individual adulation, although it seemed so. The chief justice symbolised society’s protest against a wrong done. And the lawyers who were in the forefront of the struggle were champions of liberty and freedom.
Fast-forward to 2010. There are increasing voices in the media that the superior judiciary is transgressing its mandate and at times behaving like a political institution. By frequently visiting the bars, it seems to be cultivating lawyers and often senior advocates and bar officeholders speak on its behalf.
Serious transgressions by lawyers are also ignored. For a lawyer to slap a judge and for the superior judiciary to arrange a rapprochement is just not right. This man should have been behind bars.
But congratulatory sounds emanating from all levels of the judiciary indicate as if a great conclusion to the crisis has been arrived at. Earlier, too, the judiciary had ignored lawyers beating up policemen and media representatives.
This is not about the NRO or Asif Zardari. The media welcomed the NRO, and Asif Zardari does not pass the bar of morality as far as society is concerned. The problem is that the PPP’s charge of one-sided accountability is beginning to get resonance. And the language and attitude being shown in open court by the judges is creating a backlash.
Was The News under the influence of some vast conspiracy when they published this article? Obviously not this is silly. But notice that Mr. Shafqat Mahmood’s article appears on the opinion page, while Mr. Ansar Abbasi’s column appears as “news analysis.” Now who is showing some bias?
Mr. Abbasi has the cheek to criticize Time for quoting an unnamed PPP leader, but even in his same article Ansar Abbasi quotes an unnamed, “credible source in the Pakistan embassy in Washington.” Why the hypocrisy Mr. Abbasi?
Here is the point: There are articles in the international press – not only in the USA, but around the entire world, that are critical of the judiciary. There are also some that are praising the judiciary. This is also true at home. Why? Because different people have different opinions.
It is silly to suggest that there is some PPP ability to dictate to the international media. If this were the case, why can’t they even control the media at home? It is sad to see a journalist of Mr. Abbasi’s career level making such ridiculous claims.
Mr. Abbasi, I beg of you, please learn to check your facts. Learn to tell the truth. Learn to present an unbiased analysis. At a minimum, learn to put your opinion on the opinion page. You must learn to learn. Otherwise, you will continue to write pieces that are “flawed, based on half-truths, highly biased and far from the facts.” And we all know how much you hate that!
By Yousuf Nazar Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 10:03 am
I hate to name people but I strongly feel that the media people should be held accountable too and should not be above criticism. I hope this will be taken in the same spirit. I can’t be accused of being pro-Zardari or pro-PPP given that I wrote (both in DAWN and the NEWS on 4th September 2008) that Zardari was his own worst enemy.
Now, please read this report by the News [Feb. 17, 2010] titled, “PM’s ‘last chance’ to mend ways with SC”, by Ansar Abbasi.
Now a quote from this report:
“analysts say the PM will not have many more chances for correcting his blunders. It is expected that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would press for the approval of his recommendations for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the high courts as they were in line with the law, Constitution, established conventions and principles laid down in Supreme Court judgments.
….the country’s top legal and constitutional experts are unanimous that the government’s last week notifications for the appointment of CJ LHC Justice Khawaja Sharif as judge of the Supreme Court and that of Justice Saqib Nisar as acting CJ LHC were invalid and unconstitutional. To save his government from any further embarrassment, the prime minister would act wise if he announces to undo last Saturday’s unconstitutional notifications and rectify the situation by advising the president to approve the recommendations of the chief justice for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court as well as high courts, including the LHC and the SHC.” It will also promote the image of the prime minister and even the president, who has hardly any credibility left, to sideline their top legal advisers like Babar Awan and Latif Khosa and get them replaced with the likes of Aitzaz Ahsan and Fakhruddin G Ebrahim. All the eyes are again set on the prime minister. Now he will have to show whether he would disappoint the already disappointed nation or would give them good news.”
Now is this reporting or analysis? Neither.
This report has few highly unprofessional points that are against all norms of journalism:
(a) The report warns the PM that this maybe his last chance. Now last chance for what? If the Prime Minister did not agree with the recommendations, it is within his rights to do so? Is he a grade 22 officer that he must follow the ‘recommendations’ of CJ. Is the reporter forgetting that the PM is the chief executive of Pakistan and it is he who advises the President to appoint the CJ and the judges.
(b) It is a gross distortion of facts to state that “the country’s top legal and constitutional experts are unanimous that the government’s last week notifications for the appointment of CJ LHC Justice Khawaja Sharif as judge of the Supreme Court and that of Justice Saqib Nisar as acting CJ LHC were invalid and unconstitutional.”
Justice (rtd) F.G. Ebrahim has clearly said there was nothing wrong with appointing the senior most judge of LHC to the Supreme Court. The former President of SCBA and a hero of the lawyers movement, Ali Ahmed Kurd has visibly distanced himself from the judgements of Iftikhar Chaudhry’s court.
(c) The report goes on to tell the PM which particular judge to appoint to the Supreme Court. What is the difference? Both Kh. Sharif and Saqib are judges? What is the fuss about? Is President or PM appointing his favorite cricketer as a SC judge?
(d) It does not stop there, it goes on to tell the PM who he should appoint as his legal advisers.
Do these journalists even know the meaning of objective reporting and analysis or Mir Shakil ur Rehman has been too busy making money to give them any training?
It has become a plague in Pakistan for reporters and columnists to not only get involved in partisan politics but also fancy themselves as astute and “ghak” political advisers with no regard to the responsibility they owe to the readers and viewers who have a right to expect unbiased and professional reporting and analyses. Little do they know, they are merely little and disposable pawns in the overall scheme of things and great games that are played.
It is true that all journalists have their leanings (be it in the developed world or in the developing world) but it is one thing to spin and completely another matter to become a mouth piece of a particular ‘party line’ and yet unashamedly profess to be a champion of all sorts of democratic principles and values.
First let me reproduce part of story published by The News International on February 15, 2010. The reporter is Rauf Klasra.
ISLAMABAD: Striking down his entire lot of nominees for appointment as judges of the Lahore High Court, the federal government has formally informed the Chief Justice, Justice Khwaja Sharif, that his list contained serious “flaws” and did not meet the set constitutional criteria. The government has also sent back a similar list, forwarded by the Sindh governor for his own province, it was reliably learnt. Though Punjab Governor Salman Taseer had recommended 19 of the original 28 nominees of the Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif, the federal government has, nevertheless, rejected all while citing different reasons.A source close to the Supreme Court, when contacted, said the matter of judges’ appointment is in court and soon everything will get crystal clear. He said whatever information about the nominees of judges was required under the Constitution was provided by the Lahore High Court chief justice. The criterion for selection of nominees for judges was also strictly followed. Whatever qualification the constitution provided for judges, such as competency, experience and good reputation, was ensured while finalising the list of nominees for judges.
SO far so good. But then the story goes on to quote the “SOURCE IN THE SUPREME COURT” to publish this highly political statement. This source should either come out openly and join politics. Or is it that the News publishes whatever it feels like and attributes it to sources. Now please read carefully the following part of the story.
He said in fact the government attitude towards judiciary was altogether changed after the announcement of Supreme Court verdict on NRO. Before this verdict, the government accepted all recommendations in a hope that the Supreme Court would feel obliged and show leniency on NRO. He said the Supreme Court, however, made the decision strictly according to law and constitution shattering the government hopes. Afterwards, he said, the government adopted attitude of non-cooperation and started objecting on every recommendation by the judiciary. He said the judiciary was offered by the government to induct 50 per cent of Jiala judges and 50 per cent of their own choice. “Be happy and make us happy” was what the government wanted from judiciary. He said whenever these objections were sent by the government, today, yesterday or some days before why it did not wait for the response from the chief justice. He said the government made the announcement before consultation, while it is not authorised under the constitution to act in this way.He said the PPP government wanted to induct Jiala judges in the judiciary and turn Pakistan’s justice system into topsy-turvy so that it could loot the national wealth with both hands. He said, according to his information, the agencies were pressurised to make false reports about the nominees for judges. He said the main problem is of one man that is President Zardari. And of Zardari’s corruption, he said, the main issue is of Swiss court cases. Attempts are being made to save Zardari from persecution in Swiss courts so that the looted money is not brought back and culprit is also not apprehended.
Who is this source? Is it in accordance with constitutional and legal norms that Supreme Court sources make political speeches and comments to newspapers? What business is it of a Chief Justice to go around the country (even after he had been restored) and address bars and meet delegations. Is there a limit to the nonsense that is being thrust upon the hapless people of Pakistan in the name of “independent judiciary”.
One former Chief Justice (Munir) killed the constitution of Pakistan. Another Chief Justice (Anwar ul Haq) was responsible for the murder of an elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and gave legal cover to Zia, the curse of Pakistan. Another Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry
sold out his soul to Musharraf by becoming his chief justice only to later conspire against him with the help of the intelligence agencies. Why then we are expected to blindly follow and respect these lordships?
If they really care about justice, then why don’t they order all the generals, admirals and chaudhris of Punjab to disclose their wealth and return all loans that were written off? Why don’t they order Musharraf and all his collaborators to appear in the court and face trial under Article 6? That is the most serious crime that can be committed under the law of the land but Zardari hunting is the only job these Lordships have been assigned by their real masters in Pindi, and toady journalists are too happy to oblige!
This is an open letter to journalists written in good faith and it is based on the questions and comments from large number of citizens about the recent news related to plots and residential schemes for journalists.
Other than plots, several stories were revealed in past few months regarding the Secret Funds of Information Ministry and IB (Intelligence Bureau) for journalists and media entities.
The media has always highlighted and talked about the assets of politicians. Wouldn’t it make more sense that the Journalist Community openly provide the account of their own assets before publishing the assets of others?
Several other questions are raised by the community – like:
- Who are the pseudo journalists that have been unwillingly inducted in different media organizations/entities on someone else’s demand? Who will dare to name those?
- Who is bearing expenses of meetings/dinners/gathering of journalists with political leaders? The employers of journalists or the politicians?
- Why media is silent over Nazi Naji abuse issue? Is it just because he is in the same profession?
- Is there any process of accountability within the journalists community?
- Who are the journalists who had been rewarded with plots in Bahria Town through Malik Riaz, who has always been a close partner of our elite ruling class, whether it be Military dictator Musharraf and his cronies, or President Zardari or the Sharif family? Isn’t it ironic that in all the lists of rich people of Pakistan, the name of richest person, Malik Riaz had always been missing?
Similar to any politician, judge or civil/military bureaucrat, every journalist should also make himself/herself morally accountable to the general public before exposing others.
A rough Performa like the following should be declared by all journalists along the following lines:
1- How many plots/properties you have been allotted as a Journalist in Government/Semi-Government/Journalists colonies? If yes, provide details.
2- How many plots you have been allotted in any other private scheme (like Bahria Town) in return of your Services? If yes, provide details.
3- Have you ever received any gifts from politicians, businessmen or from any other person who is not a personal friend of yours? If yes, provide details.
4- Have you ever received any money/benefits from secret or any other special fund of Government? If yes, provide details.
5- Do you or any of your family members own any marketing or advertising company? If yes, provide details.
6- Are you defaulter of any bills/payments etc. to any Government/Semi-Government Organization/Corporation? If yes, provide details.
7- Have you ever asked any politician/businessman for favor in terms of providing employment or promotion for any of your family members/relatives or friends? If yes, provide details.
8- How many times you have accompanied Prime Minister/President or other Government officials during their International visits? Provide details.
9- How many times you have accompanied Prime Minister/President or other Government officials during their visits within Pakistan? Provide details.
10 - Can you declare your current assets, as well as your assets before starting your career as a journalist? A form used by members of parliaments for this purpose will be