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King of “churnalism” goes to court

After having been stopped for writing defaming material against Riaz Laljee, the king of “churnalism”, Shaheen Sehbai has gone to court seeking damages from Azim Daultana for his article Differentiating between journalism and ‘churnalism’. Good going Sehbai sahab. Also see who’s representing him – Babar Sattar.

The notice also talks about suspicious blogs. I believe Pakistan Tea House and Let Us Build Pakistan are the ones that are suspicious.

 I am happy to see him go to court. It will be a field day against Mr. Sehbai for his previous writings.

PPP leader Azeem Daultana served defamation notice by Shaheen Sehbai 

By our correspondent

The News, July 5, 2010

ISLAMABAD: PPP Parliamentary Secretary for Information, MNA Azeem Daultana, and two province-based newspapers have been served with a Rs100 million defamation notice by Group Editor of The News, Shaheen Sehbai, for making baseless allegations and casting aspersions on his professional career and personal character.

The notice has been served by Barrister Babar Sattar on behalf of his client under Sections 4 and 8 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002 and gives two weeks to the respondents to retract their allegations, apologise and pay the damages.

The notice says Mr Sehbai is a veteran journalist, who has had an illustrious and distinguished 42-year career in the field of journalism. On May 30, 2010, the Editor-in-Chief of The News International received for publication from the Principal Information Officer of the Press Information Department an article entitled “Differentiating between journalism and ‘churnalism’”: a case study of Shaheen Sehbai’s (‘Defamatory Article’ authored by Azeem Daultana, PPP Parliamentary Secretary for Information).

Besides making several aspersions on the professional integrity, credentials, character and intentions of Shaheen Sehbai, the article specifically stated that Mr Sehbai “sought an ambassadorial position from Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP government and when Mr Zardari and the government denied him the coveted position and office of profit, he embarked upon a revenge mission against Mr Zardari.”

The PPP MNA was given an opportunity by Mr Sehbai to retract his baseless allegations through an e-mail dated June 12, 2010, within one week and tender an apology for the defamatory accusations. Instead of withdrawing the defamatory accusations and tendering an apology, the article by Mr Daultana was given wider dissemination and was published in two province-based newspapers, besides some suspicious blogs.

The notice says the contents of the article are baseless, reek of spite and malice and publication of the article is part of a campaign to throttle the attempts of proficient journalists to exercise their right to free speech and protect and defend the right of the people of Pakistan to information in larger public interest and hold public functionaries accountable.

The notice says, “The publication of the Defamatory Article constitutes an actionable wrong under Section 4 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002 and the injury, damage and harm caused to my client as a result of publication of the Defamatory Article is immeasurable. Therefore, my client is entitled to general and special damages. The cause of action accrued on May 30, 2010, and is continuing. Further, you are in breach of your obligation to take positive steps to prevent the publication of accusations defamatory to our client.

“By reason of the aforementioned, you are hereby given notice under Section 8 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, of the intention of our client to bring an action for damages on account of defamation, unless you pay a sum of Rs100 million to our client as damages and publish in a conspicuous manner a retraction of the Defamatory Article against our client and communicate to our client an unqualified apology within two (02) weeks from today.

“If you fail to comply with this notice, legal proceedings for recovery of damages, at your risk and cost, for defamation shall be instituted against you in the court of law,” it says.

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Ahmed Iqbalabadi

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  • It is just shame that(shiatan fitrat) peoples like Shaheen Sehbai are using blackmailing tacts against straight forward Azim Daultana. Babar Satar is thought, recently activated judiciary tout. He can provide best services for this kind of blackmailing.

  • Mir Shakeel Ur Rehman is aware of the fact that Shaheen Sabhai lost his mental balance last month after departure of Shahid Masood.He is already looking for a replacement of Shaheen Sabhai but Sabhai is black mailing Shakeel as Sabhai was the one communicating with all the powers on behalf of Shakeel and it would not be easy for Jang Group to get rid of a tout journalist like Shaheen Sabhai. King might end up in mental hospital lahore unlike Shahid Masood

  • Credibility of Shaheen Sehbai, Mir Shakil ur Rahman and Jang Group of Newspapers.

    Mr. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor, The News International – Jang Group of Newspapers is very fond of quoting Foreign Press particularly when Foreign Press [Pro Zionist] is negative on President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and PPP. Shaheen Sehbai while quoting The New York Times: “The problems in Afghanistan have only been compounded by the fragility of Mr. Obama’s partner in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is so weak that his government seems near collapse.” The Washington Post in a report by two correspondents said: “Zardari’s political weakness is an additional hazard for a new bilateral relationship…The administration expects Zardari’s position to continue to weaken, leaving him as a largely ceremonial president even if he manages to survive in office.” REFERENCE: Obama administration fears Zardari collapse WASHINGTON (Shaheen Sehbai)Updated at: 1525 PST, Monday, November 30, 2009 Obama administration fears Zardari collapse Updated at: 1525 PST, Monday,November 30, 2009

    Should we believe Mr Shaheen Sehbai or his Editor in Chief Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Letter Addressed to Mr Shaheen Sehbai asking for his resign on filing Concocted Stories in The News International

    “QUOTE”

    SHAHEEN SEHBAI RESIGNS AS EDITOR OF `THE NEWS`

    Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 07:42:48 -0500

    Dear Colleagues and Friends:

    It is with great sorrow that I have to convey this bad news to you all today. I have resigned today as the Editor.

    I am enclosing enclosing the correspondence with MSR which is self explanatory. I wish to thank you all for all the cooperation and respect that you extended to me during these 14 months as Editor. I will be available to each one of you as a friend at all times. Wishing you the best of luck and a great future. Shaheen Sehbai

    Pl read on:

    Memorandum

    To: Mir Shakil ur Rehman, Editor-in-Chief, The News
    From: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
    Date: March 1, 2002
    Subject: Reply to Memo dated Feb 28, 2002

    With reference to your Memo dated Feb 28, I have been accused of policy violations starting from March 2001 until the publication on Feb 17 this year of the Kamran Khan story on Daniel Pearl case. I can obviously understand that these so-called �policy violations?are nothing but an excuse to comply with the Government demand to sack me, and three other senior journalists, as you told me in our meeting in your office on Feb 22. I feel sorry that you have to make such excuses. You could have given one hint that you wanted me to go and I would have quit immediately.

    I understand that you, as owner of the Jang Group of Newspapers have been so intensely pressurized in the last about two weeks that you are no longer ready, or able, to withstand it. All government advertising of the Group has been unjustifiably suspended by the Government starting Monday, February 18, 2002, following the investigative story done in The News by our reporter, Kamran Khan. This story, as it appears now, was just an excuse to twist the neck of the Group because the same story appeared simultaneously in the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune and not one point contained in it was denied or clarified by the Government. Instead they tightened the screw on the Jang Group, as it appeared to be the most vulnerable and within their reach. This has a very obvious, and sinister message, for the free Press in Pakistan: Get in line, or be ready for the stick.?I feel sorry that you have decided to get in line, but I cannot be a party to this decision.

    You had informed me officially at a meeting in your office on Feb 22, 2002, at 10.15 p.m. that you have been given names of four journalists of The News? myself, Kamran Khan, Amir Mateen and a staffer in our Islamabad Bureau (probably Rauf Klasra as you did not name the 4th person), to be immediately sacked before the government advertisements could be restored. You also informed me that officials of the Information Ministry wanted me to improve my PR with them as they had been complaining that I was not available to them, which is basically not true. You told me to directly contact these officials and talk to them about restoring the advertisements of the Group. Mr Mahmud Sham, who later joined our meeting, had informed us that the Secretary Information had clearly stated that matters were beyond his capacity to resolve and that we have now to meet the ISI high ups.

    As a matter of principle I refused to call, or meet, any of these government officials in a situation when the entire Group was being held hostage with a gun pointed at its head. I, however, conveyed to the Government, through Mr Sham, all the evidence that the policy of The News?was very balanced, in fact tilted, in favour of General Pervez Musharraf’s government, not under any government pressure, but because some of the things he was doing were right and The News never hesitated to support any right step taken by the Government. At least 50 editorials and over 100 Op-Ed articles published in about 6 weeks were cited to show that The News had no bias against the government. Proof was also provided of how �The News? at times, went out of its way to accommodate government requests.

    Apparently these argument have not satisfied the government and the pressure is continuing on you, as your Memo indicates. Whatever other issues you have raised are childish and frivolous and I would not waste my time discussing them. But one message that emerges is very clear — I ran the newspaper as a very independent Editor, according to whatever I thought was objective, true and professionally sound journalism. I made the best use of the latest available computer technology to create a working environment in which the entire editorial staff was integrated in such a network that almost everyone was available to each other at all times. I interacted with all my staff on a personal, round the clock basis, no matter where I was located or traveling, even outside Pakistan. So the charge that I was not available to my staff is laughable as it shows how far removed you are from the ground situation.

    Your complaint of lack of general improvement in The News?is also obviously an excuse to build some case against me under Government pressure. You never once complained of that before. In fact the ground reality is just the opposite. I successfully built a great team of reporters, editors and writers during the 14 months I have been the Editor. We achieved a lot in breaking major stories, including assumption of the office of the President by General Musharraf and corruption in various government departments including Social Action Programme (SAP) and Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI). The overwhelming impression that any newspaper of the Jang Group could not publish anything against its advertisers and commercial sponsors was removed by the investigative stories we did on PIA and other corporate organizations. The News became the most quoted newspaper abroad, not only for its stories but its editorial comments and opinions. The latest such quote was in the prestigious New York Times just three days ago. The Washington Post interviewed me last week as Editor of The News.

    The real reasons for failure to bring about a real visible change in Karachi are known to you. For over a year now you have been sitting on all the plans, proposals and schemes, including a Vision Document prepared after months of hard work. The scheme to revamp all the magazines has been lying on your table for months. The designs and site plans to renovate the entire newspaper office on 4th and 5th floors has been gaining dust for months and the staff is forced to work with hundreds of cockroaches creeping on papers, computers, inside telephone sets and faxmachines. In fact I have been bogged down in these totally useless exercises for most of my time, hoping that you would find time and money to start implementing any of these detailed proposals for change and improvement. You have always been promising to launch these scheme within weeks, but that time never came. I am appalled at your audacity to accuse me of being responsible for not bringing any change while the fact is that you have always been complaining of the financial crunch?in the newspaper. You have stopped increments of all the staff and played legal jugglery with all the contract employees by refusing to renew their contracts or giving them salary increases.

    Even despite that I continued to work 20 hours a day to improve the editorial content of the newspaper which has been appreciated and recognized by every one, including your senior Directors and Editors of sister publications in letters written to me. The readers, however, are the best judge.

    Why you never raised any objection before, and why you are doing it now, is obvious — the Government pressure is unbearable. This is not a happy omen.

    Therefore, I have to convey this sad message to you, though I feel very content and satisfied that I have taken the right decision on the basis of principles. I have decided to resign from the Editorship of The News with immediate effect, rather than to submit to Government pressure and change the policy of the newspaper. Under my editorship, I will not allow the newspaper to become the voice of any government for monetary considerations. I had given my name, credibility and reputation to The News?and I prefer to protect these precious assets, rather than my job. But I will earnestly request you not to take any action against the other colleagues you have been asked to sack, as the ultimate responsibility of whatever appeared in the newspaper was mine, as Editor, and not theirs. They should be allowed to continue with their jobs. I wish, you, the newspaper and all of my colleagues a great future.

    I hereby, resign from the editorship. Please accept my resignation today and remove my name from the print line of the newspaper as of tomorrow, Saturday, March 2, 2002. I would not be responsible for the contents of the newspaper as of tomorrow.

    Best Regards

    Shaheen Sehbai

    Memorandum

    To: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
    From: MSR, Editor-in-Chief
    Date: 2/28/02
    Re: Violation of policy

    I am constrained to bring to your notice several, and repeated, violation of editorial policies clearly understood between us. Infact, these policies have also been agreed in writing. On 26th March, 2001, you had published a one sided, incorrect and libelous article against Mr. Aittiazaz Bob Din, a well known businessman residing in the United States. Although Mr. Bob Din had cited person differences between the two of you, dating back to your stay in the United States, as the motive behind the unfounded allegations against him, I had disregarded this suggestion at that time and had judged the matter purely on merit. As you will recall, you were unable to substantiate the serious charges you had leveled against him. It was only through my personal apologies and the intervention of mutual acquaintances that we were able to dissuade Mr. Din from suing the News for defamation and libel.

    On two different occasions, you published unfavourable articles about PIA, which were of uncertain veracity and did not contain their point of view, as a result of which they denounced these articles in a press conference, threatened to take legal action, suspended our advertisements and also stopped putting our papers on PIA flights. Needless to say, these measures hurt us financially, damaged our reputation and took a great deal of pacification to undo.

    I would also refer to the written terms of our agreement at the time of your appointment under which you are required to discuss the top stories of the day and other important editorial matters with me and seek the Editor-in-chiefs point of view and verdict on contentious issues? To my recollection, you have never deemed it fit to consult me on any matter. In this connection, I would further like to refer to our meeting on the eve of Eid in which group Editor Daily Jang was also present and we discussed the fallout of the story printed a few days earlier in the News ( again without consulting me, I might add ) which was perceived to be damaging to our national interest and elicited severe reaction by the Government. It had been agreed that we would contact relevant Government functionaries and arrange to meet with them to discuss the issue and also convey our point of view. Regrettably, you chose not to go to Islamabad and attend the meeting even though this had been clearly agreed. You even rebuffed senior Government officials who contacted you on the phone by hanging up on them. Sham Sahib and I left several messages with your assistant but again, you chose not to take or return our calls.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to point out again, that it is a frequent complaint that you do not interact with people. Not only have senior Government officials protested that you are inaccessible to them, but even your own staff complains that you are hardly available for meetings, guidance and discussions.

    I must convey my disappointment to you at all these issues, as I must convey my disappointment with the lack of general progress in the improvement of the News. The number of mistakes and blunders being committed, failure to follow agreed journalistic ethics – as pointed out to you from time to time by EMD have all resulted in financial set backs as well as loss of credibility for the News. I have only recounted some of the problems besetting the Jang group. It is quite evident that matters are not proceeding as we had agreed. However, before I make up my mind, I would like to hear your point of view.

    I look forward to hearing from you about the serious issues that I have raised above and any solutions that you may propose.

    Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

    “UNQUOTE”

    REFERENCE: Why Are We Killing Ourselves? Anas Malik March 2, 2002 http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/11/credibility-of-shaheen-sehbai-mir.html