I have not been very keenly following the matter of “massive losses” of Pakistan Steel and the alleged perpetrator of those losses. All fingers are pointed towards Riaz Laljee and a connection is somehow or the other made with President Zardari. The underlying tone of all news that is published on the matter by Jang Group is:
- Pakistan Steel was a very efficient and profitable institution before the PPP took over
- Pakistan Steel began to have its troubles when “incompetent” management was installed at the behest of “top government officials”
- Pakistan Steel has been targeted by businessmen who are hand in glove with the President
- Riaz Laljee is a blood sucking man having no ethics but to make money and destroy an institution like Pakistan Steel by ending the livelihoods of thousands and to cause massive losses to the national exchequer
The Pakistan Steel “scandal” has been brought to light by the Jang Group and all their leading investigative journalists like Kamran Khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Ansar Abbasi, Ahmed Noorani etc have written “investigative reports” with a simple view: discredit the PPP government, find scapegoats in the form of Riaz Laljee (an outsider)- Moin Aftab (an insider) and through them follow the usual “Get Zardari” formula. If these investigative journalists belonged to Bollywood, they would have been out of business for good for using the same formula over and over.
Coming to today’s The News and Jang, there is another “investigative” report by Ahmed Noorani with the title ‘Riaz Laljee will be arrested if he is a director’. A discussion with a DG FIA, Zafarullah Khan has been quoted in the “investigative” report. It doesn’t say if Ahmed Noorani actually met with Zafarullah Khan or it was another instance of “I call you on your cell number and ask you questions which you have to answer in the affirmative or negative”. Ahmed Noorani and his apex investigative colleagues have this tendency of calling up people and asking them questions whose answer is always going to be open for interpretation.
If one reads the report, it seems that Ahmed Noorani should have been the DG FIA as he is much more aware of the intricacies of investigation and has covered all points related to Pakistan Steel -Al Abbas Steel-Riaz Laljee-President Zardari quartet. Some of the glaring examples in the report are:
The FIA DG was asked what in his view were the reasons for not arresting Riaz Laljee or his family members who owned the companies involved in the biggest-ever PSM scam. The DG replied that he would ask the concerned investigators probing the scandal to work on this.
He was told that the three directors of Abbas Group arrested by the FIA, now released on bail, were appointed after FIA started probing the scandal and they in fact were ordinary employees of the company and that they apparently had been made scapegoats to protect the big boss. The DG FIA said the Karachi Wing of the FIA was investigating the issues related to the case.
Zafarullah Khan said: “Look, we have to go by the book. If documents show that Riaz Laljee is not a director of the companies involved in the fraud, we cannot arrest him. We need evidence that Riaz Laljee is the owner of Abbas Steel or Abbas Group.”
When told that as the investigation agency it was FIA’s duty to probe who was the actual owner of these companies, he replied that FIA should be provided with the proof that Riaz Laljee was the owner of Abbas Steel and if it was proved that he was the owner, strict action against him will be taken immediately.
At this, when DG FIA was asked whether he was under pressure on this Abbas Steel Mills-PSM case, he replied that there was always pressure in every case and so was in this case. When asked if this pressure was coming from the Presidency, he replied, “I am a small man and the president is a big man, so how he will contact me.” Asked if someone else from the government approached him for giving safe passage to Riaz Laljee, he replied that no one had contacted him. “See, we are investigating and if we get proofs we will take action.”
The DG-FIA, in his interview with The News, disclosed that he was under extreme pressure from Abbas Steel as the group had accused him of being biased towards it. He did not explain who was exerting pressure.
Just have a read of the text above and you will realize that the length of the questions asked by Ahmed Noorani is longer than the answers given by Zafarullah Khan (provided he ever gave them!).
What sort of journalistic ethics are these? Ahmed Noorani, you are not reporting facts! You are asking questions which do not make sense at all. If someone asks a person having an important position being involved in an important investigation, “Do you have any pressure on you?”, he can say “Yes, I have pressure” or “No, there is no pressure”. In either of the responses, it can be a fact or a lie. Zafarullah Khan has stated a fact that yes he has pressure on his job but then also adds that there is pressure on every case! Probing him further, Ahmed Noorani asks him if the pressure is coming from the Presidency, Zafarullah Khan has given a very frank answer. If he had said, “yes, I am having pressure from the Presidency”, the next questions from Ahmed Noorani would have been “So how did President Zardari exert pressure on you?” or “How big is the pressure” or “At what times did the President exert pressure” or “did the President exert pressure by himself by calling, emailing or messaging you?” and so on.
This just reminds me of another investigative report by Ansar Abbasi in which he called up Farhatullah Babar, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Ahsan Iqbal, Zahid Khan, Farooq Sattar etc asking “If there is A get-CJ Iftikhar operation on the cards?”. One has to question the state of mind of these journalists that even if there was a plan to get CJ which would have benefited the ruling party and the coalition, would they admit it and that to a cartel of investigative journalists who know how to twist your words to further their own vested agenda?
The report by Ahmed Noorani is yet another example of yellow journalism being displayed by the Jang Group and should be condemned at all levels!