Original Articles

Leaked video: Malik Riaz’s interview with Meher Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman

Related post: Pakistani Media Gate: 19 anchors and journalists are on ISI’s payroll via Malik Riaz

Last night (13 June 2012), an exclusive live interview of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz (of Bahria Town) was broadcasted on Dunya TV, hosted by Mehr Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman.

Sources in Dunya TV have now leaked an offline conversation which makes it clear how the interview was planted in order to present only one side of the picture.

It is our considered opinion that both Malik Riaz and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry remain loyal lackeys of Pakistan’s military establishment. None of them is a hero or well wisher of Pakistani nation.

For example, while CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry released on bail notorious terrorists such as Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Laal Masjid (Red Mosque), the same terrorist Mullah and his accomplices were accommodated by Malik Riaz in personal house in Islamabad. Of course, the acquittal of Mullah Abdul Aziz as well as his accommodation was instructed and scripted by the ISI.

Why did the Supreme Court (read CJ Chaudhry) arrange a room for Arsalan Iftikhar in Balochistan House? As alleged in the leaked Dunya video?

In Part 2 of the leaked video, Mehr Bokhari is heard saying: “… it will look like (the interview) is planted – which it is, but it shouldn’t look like it is”.

Both groups of journalists, both pro-Malik Riaz and pro-CG Chaudhry, remain in the main subservient to the interests and agendas of Pakistan’s military establishment. What we are currently witnessing in Pakistani media and politics is nothing more than a superficial internal fight between two sub-mafias of the ISI. Despite CJ Chaudhry’s recent, token activism on missing persons (in view of the Bahria Gate or CJ Gate), the current power struggle offers neither hope nor respite to the oppressed communities of Pakistan.

Before the Dunya TV interview, someone influential also called Mubashir Lucman on his cell phone and then Mubashir Lucman handovered his cell phone to Malik Riaz. Mubashir asked the influential person to advise Malik Riaz to also discuss role of Hamid Mir.

Reports are circulating on the internet in which both anchors are accused of getting bribes from Malik Riaz, such as Salaami of 50 Lac Rs on Mehr’s wedding with Kashif Abbasi. A similar amount is said to be paid to Najam Sethi and his subordinates in The Friday Times by Malik Riaz.

The Chief Justice lobby is rumoured to have paid competitive amounts to Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi and Umer Cheema.

Dirty establishment, dirty judges, dirty journalists. Teen Jeem Mafia the scum of Pakistan!

Behind the scenes, between the breaks chat between Mubashir Lucman, Meher Bokhari & Malik Riaz



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  • I must say LUBP’s stance on rightwing-pseudoliberal alliance RPA in Pakistani media is completely vindicated.

    Pakistani journalists right from Lucman to Sethi and from Meher Bokhari to Hamid Mir are for sale.


  • Imtiaz Gul’s comments:

    It is indeed a very sad reflection on how money and moneyed people can
    use others including media as pawns in their game, and that the
    mediapersons also willingly become part of the sinister games. A
    bitter reflection on the state of society where money rules – even
    ill-gotten and being spent on vehicles such as media.

  • LOL

    watch 13:15 Meher (in fact Zeher) Bokhari says

    “ye na kehna, lagay ka ke planted he, jo ke he magar”

  • Now on express tribune:

    What do you get when you leave the camera on with two TV anchors and a business tycoon during an advertisement break? A candid video of what went on behind the scenes during what is termed a “planted show” on one of the biggest scandals in Pakistan’s history.
    Behind the scenes footage showing Dunya TV anchors Mubashir Lucman and Meher Bokhari talking to Malik Riaz during their show surfaced on YouTube under the title “Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bokhari and Mubashir Lukman on dunya tv“ on Thursday. The show aired on the TV channel on Wednesday.
    The footage shows conversations between Lucman, Bokhari and Riaz focused on the kind of questions they will be asking. Both anchors are also instructed against interrupting Riaz during the interview.
    Bokhari is heard saying a question is planted towards the end of the video.
    “Say what you want… what question should we ask. It will appear as though it is planted… it is, but it shouldn’t appear it is.”
    The video begins with general conversation and is followed by Riaz questioning the anchors on why they are not asking why he is part of “deals”.
    Lucman is then seen on the phone asking if the interview is going fine and defending himself by saying Riaz is being given a chance.
    Who is he speaking to? Abdul Qadir Gilani, he says.
    The anchor tells “Gilani” that he wants to clear his name from taking money and he wants to talk about Hamid Mir’s allegations, but Riaz isn’t letting him take his name. “No, no,” says the business tycoon in response to that.
    Riaz then asks “Gilani” to pray for him.
    In between Lucman’s smoke break, Bokhari turns to Riaz to discuss what they will ask next. A brief discussion and a “khul kay poochain”, Meher says that they will discuss journalists at the end of the show, so as to “clear her name” at least.
    Lucman tells Riaz, “Today I will ask you to give me in front of everyone. Give me a villa like you gave Hamid”. “No, no,” is Riaz’s response once again, followed by a “why not” from Lucman.
    Yet another break later, both anchors and Riaz are once again seen discussing what the next discussion will be.
    Riaz once again mentions that he wants them to ask why he is in every deal, and is told by Bokhari that she is not interested in asking that question, but is in return told that he wants to go back to it. “So go back,” says Lucman.
    Riaz is seen occasionally choosing topics of his choice, focusing on the chief justice as well. He is also visibly upset during one part of the video, where he says that most of his questions are left and the work isn’t done.
    Smoke breaks, thumbs up from both anchors, a high five and questions of how the show is going so far are also seen during the video.
    Little arguments between both anchors are also regularly seen during the video, mostly on order of asking questions and the time each has to take.
    Lucman also tells Riaz that he will ask a “conspiracy theory” question that he wanted to become the prime minister.
    He tells Riaz that he will not answer the question before 10, as this will make people wait for it otherwise they won’t come back to the show.
    In another interesting revelation, Riaz states that he does not eat roti, chawal or meetha, and will eat an egg or chicken. Lucman asks Bokhari to get barbecue instead.
    Riaz is not to be interrupted
    The second part of the video has strict instructions coming in for both Lucman and Bokhari that Riaz is not to be interrupted.
    Both anchors give their assurance that they will not be interrupting the businessman now. Lucman also tells someone off camera that they should not be pressurising them for a break, and says that they will go over time if they have to.
    Lucman then asks Riaz to give him a “dhamaka”, and is promised that he will get one on the next show.
    Bokhari also delivers a message from Maryam Nawaz that a car had been offered to them but they had declined it after saying thank you.
    During this talk, a muffled off screen voice says something and Riaz tells the female to stay queit.
    The second part also sees both anchors getting into a little tiff over camera time. Bokhari calls Lucman childish, who takes his mic off and leaves.
    Riaz appears desperate when Lucman walks off, asking him to come back, saying it will be unfair for him.
    An angry Lucman returns and tells Riaz that he will say live on air that he was pressurised into doing the show by him and Mian Amir.
    Riaz continues trying to reconcile between the two during all of this.
    He then begs both anchors and says that the program will be spoilt and that his life is at stake. Lucman then tells Riaz that he will say that he had gone to meet the man who also had documents to show against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.
    A video close to 26 minutes will now just add to the only dangerously brewing storm that has a member of the judiciary linked to it.

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  • There is nothing special in this clip.

    This sort of activity can be seen during break period of any Talk Show. Who soever has done this should be given Nishan-e-Haider.

  • Point to be noted; Mehar Bukhari said why Dunya news is off in few areas, are we doing a show against the MQM.
    How afraid are these people of the bloody mafia. They can keep barking against Nawaz Sharif, Zardari but never against robbers such as Kayani, Altaf Hussain, Chief Justice Chaudhry.

  • I know Mubashir Luqman since he was PRO to Musarrat Misbah, the lady who runs Depilex, a chain of beauty saloons in Pakistan, and also the head of SMILE NGO that ‘works for acid victims.’

    In 2004-2005, Mubashir was her PRO and as PRO his basic job was to arrange press conferences.
    As a beat reporter, I had to attend such news conferences. I remember, he was a penny-less and poverty-hit man. Then he was introduced to Pervez Musharraf through Musarrat Misbah. Then he was appointed Minister in the interim-government. Now he is said to be a millionaire, who travels in Mercedes and four-wheel-drive.
    We know that what type of ‘short-cuts’ he used to mint money to become so-called top journalist.
    In fact, he is a ‘middle-man’ not a journalist.


    Ashraf Javed

  • As Talat Hussain recently said, the stance journalists take on Malik Riaz in the coming days will be a real test for the media. What positions other journalists adopt on this leaked video will be yet another litmus test. will our journalists start exposing the corrupt elements within their own ranks or will they continue to cover up for each other? Will sold out journalists continue to ignore the likes of Malik Riaz and Zardari while demanding the resignation of the CJ so that this mafia of vested interests can continue to loot the country without any interference?

    The current judiciary, despite all its imperfections, has emerged as a force challenging our rotten system, and if Malik Riaz and the forces behind him succeed, it will only be a victory for the status quo. This is not about reforming and improving the judiciary but about replacing it by one that stops impeding the corrupt elite. Had the judiciary continued to serve this mafia of vested interests, the likes of Malik Riaz and the various media houses that have been running editorial campaigns against the CJ and the other judges would have been perfectly happy.

    For the people of Pakistan, the only choice here is to stand with the judiciary as the battle lines are drawn, or we risk losing the only institution that is at least trying to giv us some relief.

    Aqil Sajjad

  • ISI released the video. They did not want their dog to be loyal to Abdul Qadir Gilani. The dog (Malik) has been taught a lesson. He has now reverted to his old masters.

    All is set. Everything will be sorted out between Malik Riaz and Iftikhar Chaudhry in the next few days. CJ will vent his anger not at army or Malik Riaz but on Zardari-Gilani and their ministers.

    That’s what the script says!

  • Why Mariam Nawaz Sharif called during the show and insisted Malik Riaz to say that Hamza Shehbaz returned the car (bribery) with thanks.

    Chor ki darhi main tinka!

  • So, basically we find out the following things:

    1. This was a total set-up of an interview, with planted questions.

    2. Malik Riaz is not only told the questions before-hand, he is fed some of the answers too and prompted by the intrepid interviewers to say things he might have forgot to mention.

    3. The Prime Minister’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani is in the know and involved, as are the Sharif brothers in a slightly different way.

    4. There are instructions from Dunya TV management ‘not to interrupt’ Malik Riaz, even if it means going over time. Obviously, Dunya TV is more beholden to him than anyone could have guessed.

    5. There actually were plenty of ego-clashes between the Bokhari and Lucman, even more than what was visible on air yesterday, over how much time each was getting to ask their questions. At one point, Malik Riaz tries to placate them both by telling them that they should put aside their squabbles because this programme is a matter of life or death for him. Meher tells Lucman to “be professional.” You are allowed to laugh.

    6. Other than providing an unembarrassed and shameless platform to someone well known for buying off the media in the shape of a fake ‘grilling’, the main thrust of the interviewers is to clear their own names as people bought off by Malik Riaz by throwing up smokescreens of asking hard-hitting questions. “Do you want to clear our names here?” asks Bokhari of Lucman while trying to decide the schedule of questions.

    I don’t really think you’re going to ever clear your names after this, Ms Bokhari and Mr Lucman. Same goes for Dunya TV and its politician owner Mian Aamir Mahmood for that matter.

    : : : Update : : :

    1. For those who cannot understand the Urdu, here is a good summary of the videos. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/06/14/news/national/mubashar-lucman-suspended-for-%E2%80%98off-air%E2%80%99-comments/

    2. According to Dunya TV sources, Mubasher Lucman has either been ‘suspended’ or fired for saying during the show that he was being pressurised to do the show by Mian Aamir Mahmood and Malik Riaz.

    3. Dunya TV News Director Nasim Zehra too is rumoured to have resigned.

  • beena sarwar said…
    Re: the comment above that the person who leaked this was possibly “from agencies” – that’s always a possibility in Pakistan. But if all whistle-blowing was condemned as dismissed as “professional dishonesty”, we wouldn’t have Wikileaks. There’s a general consensus, in the interest of freedom of information and democracy, that whistle-blowers who act in the public interest and expose corruption should be protected, not prosecuted.

    hey beena: do you really think agency’s men are in need of protection? it’s the same agency men which released list of journalists on Malik Riaz’s payroll which includes some of your own friends. any comments?

    News Comments (73)
    Sajid Khan Lodhy 9 hrs ago | Comments (73)

    LAHORE – That trouble comes in threes could not be any truer than in the case of the latest scandal hitting mainstream media and social media, dubbed “Mediagate”. What started as mere allegations against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar that first turned into a storm that shook the very foundations of judiciary, has now turned into another earth-shaking scandal that has put at stake the careers of many prominent journalists in the country, and putting into question the role of the media as a watchdog against corrupt practices.
    “Bahriagate” or “Familygate” has seemingly opened up a Pandora’s Box, and Malik Riaz’s revelations have put some of the anchors on a warpath.
    After appearing in a press conference, which in itself spurred the Supreme Court to initiate contempt of court proceedings, the real estate tycoon and central character of Bahriagate, Malik Riaz, appeared in an interview on Dunya News TV channel, hosted by Mehar Bukhari and Mubasher Lucman, which has brought a rumble along the foundations of Pakistani media.
    First it was Najam Sethi of Geo TV and Syed Talat Husain of Dawn News who sparred and traded punches a few days ago, mostly over their intellectual capacity and professional integrity. Echoes of this episode had barely died down when this explosion was heard on the vibes.
    The recent interview was routine business but what really proved to be shocking was behind-the-scenes video footage that somehow got leaked and was uploaded on YouTube, and was soon doing the rounds in the social media. It appears from the footage that Malik Riaz had planted questions in the interview. The hosts also appear to be helping him prepare his answers, and in certain cases mouth-fed him some answers. He appeared to take full advantage of his position and contact with the management of Dunya News who told the hosts not to interrupt him and give him as much time as he wanted.
    The video also shows political scions of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif interrupting and giving their input to the hosts on points relevant to them.
    “Why don’t you start talking about it yourself, otherwise [if we ask] it will seem planted, which it is, but I don’t know if it should look planted,” an otherwise ferocious Mehar at one point suggested to Malik Riaz.
    Both Mehar and Lucman in the start reminded Riaz of mentioning ‘Code of Conduct’ for judges, where “as per section 4 listed on their website also, even if a judge is related to one of the lawyers involved in a case or personally knows someone in the case, they should quit,” Lucman says, while Mehar adds, “and in this case it’s his [CJ’s] son”.
    During the interview Mubasher Lucaman, known for his no holds barred approach, seemed upset and offended at the very idea of hosting a programme jointly with Mehar Bukhari, who in herself has seen a fair deal of controversy during her career as an anchorperson. He was piqued when Mehar insisted on deciding who was going to ask Malik Riaz questions. In fact, he did get up and walked out of the room when Mehar did not give in. Later, under persuasion by both his co-host and the guest, he came back. He also said: “I’ll say it on air that I’ve been ‘pressurised’ by Mian Amir Mehmood and Malik Riaz to do this programme.”
    It also appeared that he was more interested in defending the political scion of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Moonis Elahi, who Mehar wanted to ask a question about from Malik Riaz, than asking direct questions from the guest.
    Lucman was also adamant in bringing into debate the name of Hamid Mir, host of a well-known TV talk show, for “taking a villa” from the tycoon to which Malik Riaz resisted. Lucman apparently handed him a cell phone, in his support, on the other line of which was, he said, Abdul Qadir Gilani, the son of Prime Minister Gilani. Meantime, Maryam Nawaz sent a text message to Mehar clarifying the situation regarding allegations that Malik Riaz had given Hamza Shehbaz a bullet-proof car.
    The video has become the talk of the town as almost every talk show was seen discussing it.
    Hamid Mir of Geo News used the video in his programme, Capital Talk, and asked scathing questions from his guests that included Khawaja Asif of the PML-N, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira of PPP and Imran Khan of PTI. He was quick to point out the laxity shown by his colleagues in the media though he exonerated himself from all the allegations levelled against him in that interview. He insisted, “All of us journalists who have been named in the list must put ourselves up for accountability by the PFUJ and the courts.”
    He was referring to a list allegedly published on the official letterhead of Bahria Town and containing names of 19 journalists with the amount of money, vehicles, property and other favours they received from the Bahria Town management. The Bahria Town management has denied publishing the list.
    In their defence, the management of Dunya News claims that the controversial video footage was stolen by a rival media group and thus could have been manipulated and edited into something it never was intended for.
    Mehar gave a dispassionate defence of her actions in her programme ‘Crossfire’ while claiming that nothing out of the ordinary was done during the interview. “Everybody in media does what we did,” she said. “Journalists in that list are in the process of consultation on how to take legal action against Bahria Town,” she added.
    Meanwhile, sources told Pakistan Today that Lucman has been “suspended for three days” by the Dunya News management, and an enquiry has been started against him for his controversial actions during the interview. Malik Riaz had in fact warned him during the interview that he would have to answer a lot of questions about his comment with regard to “having been pressurised by Mian Amir” on-air.
    Meanwhile, in a related development, Nasim Zehra has resigned from her position as the Director Current Affairs, Dunya News, in the aftermath of this leaking of behind-the-scenes video.
    The turmoil at Dunya News also brings into focus the role of emerging media barons and their hobnobbing with the powers that be.


  • Did anyone notice that Mubashir Lucman was fired from Dunya TV only not on off air matters but he was fired for what he said on air (unknowingly):

    میں پروگرام میں کہوں گا کہ مجھے عامر محمود اور ملک زیاض نے اس انٹرویو کے لئے دبا وٓ ڈالا

    Can someone ask fake activists such as Beena Sarwar and others to target media owners and agencies (ISI, MI) instead of token and misleading attacks on Meher and Lucman only? Why no similar activism against Sethi, Hamid Mir and others?

  • The day media itself got embroiled in scandal
    From the Newspaper | Amir Wasim | 9 hours ago 0

    Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz (C) waves to members of the media as he leaves after appearing before the Supreme Court in Islamabad, June 12, 2012. — Photo by Reuters
    ISLAMABAD, June 14: Malik Riaz strode on to the national political scene vowing to expose the court but he has ended up facilitating an expose of the media, the climax of which came with the release of footage in which two talk show hosts interacted with the property tycoon in a manner that suggested an interview more pre-planned and coordinated than a ‘hard talk’.

    Since the familygate scandal broke out, the media in Pakistan has not covered itself with glory. It has been under discussion just as much as Riaz and his alleged links with Arsalan Iftikhar.

    Initially the scepticism was targeted at the manner in which the scandal came to light, in which well-known talk show hosts spilled the beans only to later admit that there was little proof of its authenticity.

    Shortly after this, a twitter war broke out as anchors accused each other of being in the pay of the country’s most well-known property tycoon. One accused the other of being linked to Riaz; the other hit back on twitter and said the first was in the pay of the Americans. Accusations on social media and indirect ones in their own shows proved to be just as entertaining as the antics of Riaz.

    But on Thursday the talk show hosts overtook the SC and the tycoon. The messengers became the story themselves when the footage of the interaction of Mubashir Lucman and Mehr Bokhari with Riaz on Wednesday night were uploaded on the internet. They had interviewed him for their channel in a special programme.

    The footage of their unguarded conversation with each other and with Riaz as they discussed the interview during commercial breaks was a damning indictment of the electronic media. Even on the night of the interview, there was an opinion that the two hosts had not grilled the tycoon as much as they could have because they were busy jostling with each other for space and time.

    But this still did not prepare everyone for the internet edition of the interview.

    The nearly 30-minute long video shows the two discussing questions with Riaz.

    At one point, Ms Bokhari is heard saying: “Say what you want…what question should we ask. It will appear as though it is planted…it is, but it shouldn’t appear it is.”

    Both the anchors have also been shown receiving instructions from an “unknown” person, asking them not to “interrupt” Riaz during the interview and provide him unlimited time.

    What has lent credence to the perception that the entire exchange was pre-planned are the unverified rumours of Ms Bokhari and Mr Lucman being among those media people who have received money and other benefits from Mr Riaz. In fact, the two bring this issue up with their ‘guest’ and insist that he has to clear this up before the interview ends.

    At one point, Lucman tells Riaz, “Give me a villa like you have given Hamid Mir [who hosts a show at Geo TV]”. He goes on to add during a phone call, ostensibly from Abdul Qadir Gilani, the prime minister’s son, that Riaz had stopped him from naming Mir on air.

    Mr Lucman then hands over the phone to Riaz who is heard calling Mr Gilani “Bunny” and asking if everything is going well. The name dropping does not end here.

    Ms Bokhari also informs Malik Riaz that she has received a message from Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, that Hamza Shahbaz turned down the bullet-proof car offered by Mr Riaz.

    The businessmen can also be seen choosing questions that he is to be asked. “You ask me as to why I am involved in all the deals,” he tells the two sitting in front of him.

    ‘Childish’ walkout

    But while the anchors refrain from firing at Riaz they do attack each other as they fight for more airtime. Bokhari calls Lucman childish when he walks out of the studio.

    Later, Riaz is seen asking someone to tell his daughter to call Lucman and console him. The reason for his concern is the interview; the business tycoon says: “you are spoiling my programme.”

    An angry Lucman returns only to threaten that he will say on air that he was pressured into doing the show by Riaz and Mian Amir, the channel owner.

    The comfortable and friendly relationship between the two hosts and the controversial property tycoon and the manner in which Riaz seems to be calling the shots have combined to paint a damning picture.

    By evening it was evident that rival channels were not going to pass up on a good story. News bulletins ran the footage and talk shows had a field day. Some attacked the two anchors while others used it to illustrate the already legendary control of Riaz over the media.

    The SC’s criticism of the media in its short order the very same afternoon lent more irony to the situation. As this footage was doing the rounds, the SC said that “It is worth remembering that ultimately every person and every institution is the custodian of his/its own reputation and integrity. If we don’t guard our reputation the honourable people of Pakistan will be justified in pointing fingers at us. The same applies to all other institutions, including the media.”

    Lucman suspended

    The two talk show hosts remained incommunicado all day long though Ms Bokhari in her Thursday night show ran the footage in order to offer a clarification. Interestingly, her defence was mostly limited to herself; she announced that the management had suspended Mr Lucman and ordered an inquiry.

    She conceded only to one planted question in the interview, but said that she had refused to ask the question as it was based on Riaz’s information – that the chief justice had arranged a room for his son at Balochistan House.

    She also denied receiving any benefit from Mr Riaz and said that she along with others whose names have appeared on an unverified list planned to sue Mr Riaz as the list doing the rounds appears to be printed on a Bahria Town letter head.

    Mr Lucman could not be contacted.

    Hamid Mir, the anchor of Geo TV, when contacted, also denied that he had received any villa from Riaz. He said that an inquiry should be ordered and Riaz should be asked to provide the list of the journalists he had given benefits to. He said he wanted the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to take notice of the allegations and of the presence of “black sheep” among the journalists.

    Mr Mir termed it a “planned conspiracy” to damage the credibility of both the judiciary and the media.

    When contacted, PFUJ president Pervez Shaukat said that he had already convened a meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Lahore to review the situation.


  • Meri tarif se uss adhmi ko salam jiss nhe ye video leak ki hai. hum sub ko ussai dhad deni chayeye ke uss ki wajha se hum ko iss ganune jurm ka ilam hoa,aur hamari adlia ki izzat bachgai.abb inn sub kamino ko baizzat karna chai jo iss game main shamil hai.

  • Media wars Dunya and Geo slug it out all day
    Posted on 2012-06-16 10:38:27
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    LAHORE – There’s a war raging on in the media. And another in the hearts and minds of the people.
    The Malik Riaz-Arsalan graft scandal has brought forth a facet of media that was the last thing on people’s mind, who marveled at the freedom and impartiality exercised by the country’s fourth estate while grinding the politicians for their alleged corruption and indifference towards the people.
    Wednesday’s “exclusive” interview of Malik Riaz conducted by fiery Dunya News anchor Meher Bukhari, who a Norwegian founder of a trendy genre of journalism once called the “perfect type of candidate to promote Pakistan”, and Mubashar Lucman, the host of Khari Baat (true talk), was little expected to become for Pakistanis what the atomic bomb was for Hiroshima. While Dunya News spent the day in damage control exercises like downplaying its rival Geo News, claiming how the channel had lied to people at several occasions and backtracked, and talking to the people on the streets who instantly supported Dunya News for its upright stance and morals, all is still not well on the air waves.
    Dunya News posted on its website that Geo News was admonished for airing baseless news against the judiciary in Arsalan case order.
    Its transmission also kept repeating the following tickers, demonizing Geo News and its anchors:
    (1)Hamid Mir was accused by Sheikh Rashid for arranging ‘paid’ programmes.
    (2)Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan confessed in writing to the Supreme Court that they aired stories without verification.
    (3) Shaheen Sehbai’s interview was uploaded without establishing the authenticity of its contents.
    (4) Geo News picked up propaganda campaign against judiciary after Shaheen Sehbai uploaded the interview.
    Not one to stay back, Geo News was persistent in its efforts to impress upon its viewers the channel’s “unflinching support for the judiciary and its impartiality”.
    Sana Bucha, anchor of “Lekin”, jumped into the foray with Hamid Mir as one of the participants. The other three invited were the PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, the PML-N’s Khawaja Asif and the PML-Q’s Sheikh Waqas Akram.
    What these exercises will result in nobody knows, but some social media users said all would be forgotten in time as Pakistanis had poor memory and the anchors would soon be seen on other channels. A worthy argument indeed!
    Earlier in the day, the Kohisar Police Station in Islamabad registered an FIR [First Information Report] against unidentified people for uploading “off-air” segments of Malik Riaz’s interview. The application was filed by the administration officer of Dunya News.
    The leaked footage of the “off-air” of Meher and Lucman’s controversial guest Malik Riaz has not only gone viral but has in the process opened up an irrepressible can of worms. The “off-air” scenes show the two anchors taking instructions from an unidentified caller of not hindering Malik Riaz’s talk, Lucman itching to take a shot at Geo News anchor Hamid, and Meher considering how to make a question not look planted, were saddening for everyone who watched it.
    Mubashar Lucman has reportedly been temporarily sacked, while Meher has been asked to resign within 24 hours or get sacked.
    All these remain reports yet to be verified, but what is verifiable is that the credibility of media as an impartial voice has been extremely compromised.


  • US newspapers following Arsalan-Riaz case
    By: Special Correspondent | June 16, 2012 | 0

    WASHINGTON – The Arsalan Iftikhar case has not made big headlines in the United States but some newspapers are covering developments as it involves accusations against family of Pakistan’s Chief Justice.
    There has been no editorial comment so far. Also, the controversy in Pakistani media over a leaked video revealing that a Pakistani television interview with Malik Riaz Hussain, the property tycoon, was planted, has not yet hit American newspapers.
    But ValueWalk, a New Jersey-based financial news service focusing on value investing, hedge funds and asset managers, has commented on the episode. It said the two anchors – Mehar Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman – probably acted under one of two conditions, personal gain or orders given from above. “There may have been some mix of the two,” the financial news service said.
    ValueWalk wrote, “Mian Amer Mahmood, the owner of Dunya TV, has a great deal to answer for in this case. In behind-the-scenes footage Mubashir Lucman mentioned him by name as a source of pressure at the network forcing him to do the interview. News emerged today that Mubashir Lucman had been suspended from the network for his comments.
    “Gratitude must be felt for the man or woman that leaked this video onto the internet and exposed the corruption. It is hoped that more like them will emerge from any other corrupt alcove of Pakistan’s media and unleash a wave of justice to wipe out the corruption.
    “Though exhausted after the Riaz legal battle, Pakistan cannot rest. The corruption in the media is one of the most powerful negative forces operating in the country at the moment. The leak of this video, the source of which Dunya TV is now investigating, is but the first step in what will form a long battle for purity in broadcasting.”
    On the Arsalan-Riaz case, American newspaper dispatches so far have brought out CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s crusade against corruption and towards promoting human rights and the rule of law.
    In this context, here is what The New York Times wrote about him (excerpts), “Pakistan’s chief justice has wielded his court as a whip against the status quo, the country’s rich and powerful, calling top government officials and military spymasters to account and asserting himself as a political force in his own right.
    “But on Tuesday he found himself at the centre of a new political firestorm when a well-connected property baron stood up in court and accused his family of corrupt dealing, detailing $3.7 million in kickbacks and cash payments.
    “The allegations were a serious blow for the chief justice, who until now has been virtually venerated by many Pakistanis for his flamboyant court crusades against powerful figures…
    “The lurid accusations and dark innuendo represented a once-unthinkable challenge to Chief Justice Chaudhry, who has steered the court into new and often controversial legal waters in recent years yet never faced such public questioning about his personal ethical standards…
    “Until now Mr (Riaz) Hussain, who made a fortune on the back of property development deals with the military, had a reputation as a well-connected but discreet power broker who shunned media attention. But in court his lawyers furnished extensive details of payments that they said were linked to the chief justice’s close family.
    “What was least clear, and most speculated about in the Pakistani public in recent days, was what had motivated Mr Hussain to come forward” – to which Hussain said what had prompted him.
    The Times said, “While Chief Justice Chaudhry has been criticized this year for pursuing what was seen as a personal grudge against President Asif Ali Zardari in the courts, he has also been praised for taking on the country’s top generals, including those of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, for their part in suspected human rights abuses in Balochistan.
    “Some have speculated that those military cases may have prompted Mr Hussain’s aggressive actions, which he flatly denied. Still, it appeared clear that the businessman wants to see Chief Justice Chaudhry ousted from office — something that is not easy to achieve.
    Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the chief justice can only be fired by the Supreme Judicial Council, which is composed of fellow judges. The last time Chief Justice Chaudhry faced such a council was in spring 2007, when the country’s military ruler at the time, Gen Pervez Musharraf, tried to have him fired.
    “That effort ended badly for General Musharraf when the streets filled with huge protests in support of Chief Justice Chaudhry.
    “Nevertheless, there is little doubt that Chief Justice Chaudhry’s position is suddenly weaker than it has been in years.”
    A dispatch in McClatchy Newspapers said, “Malik Riaz Hussain bought his way to becoming possibly the most powerful man in Pakistan. Political leaders, bureaucrats, journalists and military generals are said to be in the pocket of the millionaire property tycoon – all the way up to the president and army chief.
    “Now a new scandal involving Hussain has embroiled the only public institution in this nation – a troubled US ally – that was considered clean: the judiciary…”
    The dispatch said the controversy “threatens to destroy the moral authority of Chief Justice Chaudhry, and the rest of the judiciary – the institution that many in Pakistan feel is the only thing stopping the country from sliding into all-out anarchy.
    “Pakistan has reeled from legal crises all year, as the courts under (Justice) Chaudhry have humiliated the government of President Zardari over alleged corruption and hounded the military over alleged human rights abuses…
    “The latest judicial intrigue has badly embarrassed the chief justice and transfixed even scandal-weary Pakistan…”
    The dispatch said, “Hussain, a millionaire property developer, stands accused of a long list of crimes, with 100 cases currently before the courts, ranging from murder to land-grabbing. He also has a relationship with extremists. His Bahria Town company provided a luxurious house for radical cleric Abdul Aziz. In addition, he’s on good terms with the leadership of the main opposition party.
    “A brother of the army chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, is reportedly in a lucrative business partnership with Hussain, and it was shown in court last week that Hussain keeps at least two retired generals and several other retired military officials on his payroll.
    “Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said this week that Hussain is ‘close to everyone’. “It’s unclear who’s behind the tycoon’s risky assault on the judiciary. Many believe that Zardari instigated the furore, as his enemies in the media, the judiciary and the military have all been badly sullied by it. One possible sign of the government’s leanings was the official security detail accorded to Hussain Tuesday outside the Supreme Court – plainclothes and uniformed officers deployed in force – which was no less than that given to the prime minister in court appearances earlier this year.”
    “So far, there’s been no suggestion that Chaudhry benefited financially from Hussain’s alleged dealings with (Arsalan) Iftikhar, or that the money led to favourable treatment by the courts.
    “(Justice) Chaudhry took on the country’s last military dictator and is widely lauded as a hero in Pakistan. He has hauled military and intelligence officials up before the courts on charges of ordering extrajudicial executions and forced the prime minister to answer charges he shielded the president against corruption accusations. In April, the Supreme Court ruled that Gilani should be disqualified from office – though he remains in the job.
    “But many in Pakistan are asking how (Justice) Chaudhry could have failed to notice that his son was amassing wealth.”


  • Blow to the media
    From the Newspaper | 9 hours ago 0

    PAKISTAN’S electronic media has demonstrated often enough that it has grown faster than it has been able to mature. In this context, the scandal that has broken out in the wake of business tycoon Malik Riaz’s allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar, the chief justice’s son, is mind-blowing. On Wednesday, a news channel aired a ‘special’ during which two anchors ‘grilled’ Mr Riaz. A day later, the public was treated to behind-the-scenes footage of the three talking off-air. The video is compromising and indicates that the interview was fixed, with Mr Riaz approving the questions beforehand. A couple of phone calls, with the callers giving instructions and advice, during the clip have also dragged other names into the fray. More disturbingly, certain comments on this clip have led to concerns that the latter may have been ‘bought’ by Mr Riaz. A list of several journalists who allegedly received funds/favours from Mr Riaz has been in circulation — although Bahria Town has denied its authenticity.

    The affair has blown the lid off two issues: intellectual dishonesty where the public is duped through set-ups and planted stories, and the clout wielded on TV channels by some of those being quizzed. Neither is new or limited to Pakistan. Unfortunately, what is popularly known as lifafa journalism, where some newsmen received money or favours from the police, agencies and politicians, has expanded to include business interests seeking to buy the sympathies or silence of journalists. So what lessons do we walk away with? First and foremost, the media in general needs to ponder over what constitutes integrity in journalism. For this, an internal mechanism imparting the values of ethical journalism is a necessity at media houses. The public, meanwhile, must learn to be more educated consumers of the news and not take everything at face value. At the same time, we hope that such incidents do not translate into a situation where the entire media is regarded as tainted. The media’s independence today has been achieved after decades of struggle against obscurantist regimes. The actions of a few should not tarnish the good work of others.


  • June 16, 2012

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    EDITORIAL : The menace in media

    The events of the last week that have come to be known as ‘FamilyGate’ and ‘BahriaGate’ have given rise to a new gate yesterday: MediaGate. In a document printed on a Bahria Town letterhead, 19 journalists and media personnel have allegedly received kickbacks and bribes from Malik Riaz. On the heels of that startling but so far unsubstantiated document, the latest storm on social, print and electronic media unleashed after behind the scenes footage of a private TV channel found its way to YouTube. All hell broke loose as the ‘friendly’, personal talk/arguments between the interviewee and the interviewers were caught on tape and leaked on the internet. As the drama takes a public shape, the ‘tarnished’ channel in order to clear its name as two of its most prominent anchors face public and media condemnation, the response as expected is allegations of the unsavoury manipulation by a rival TV channel.

    There are a few things to be said about this. These allegations are a slap in the face of journalism in Pakistan and an insult to the 65-year struggle it took for good people to establish a free media in Pakistan. It wasn’t always like this: personal.

    As the latest media scandal upset the public’s sensibilities who hold certain individuals as a beacon of hope for Pakistan’s media as perpetrators of truth, it has also tarnished the country’s image abroad, making a spectacle of itself. The phenomenon of a ‘planted’ interview as it hollows out the credibility of the media, coupled with the allegation that certain prominent journalists are on the payroll of a certain businessman is a very serious development. It is now the duty of these 19 journalists to come clean on these allegations. For the most part, the media has never been subjected to accountability — whether it comes to incorrect facts or journalistic ethics. The owners and PEMRA turn a blind eye. Owners are driven by profits, swept up in a rat race of ratings. Most anchors and journalists have received no formal training and have a non- professional attitude. Their shooting to fame overnight empowers them, thus becoming a double-edged sword when they use it for ‘illicit’ acts, based on greed and an ugly rush to make professional advances.

    Started by TV anchors hurling allegations at each other on air, is this what airtime is meant to be used for? The CJP’s son’s alleged corruption charges are revealed by some anchors from a major media house; then it escalates and engulfs many, snowballing into the revelation of the list of 19 journalists, including the ones who presented the scoop.

    Why is this happening? Generally speaking, society has thrown all codes of ethics and morality out of the window. The clamour about alleged corruption in the media is the latest reflection of this virtually universal affliction in society. Journalists do not descend from the heavens, they are products of this very society, hence exhibiting a reckless behaviour that has become so commonplace it is considered a norm. Professionalism was to be the bedrock of the free media, but unfortunately not so anymore apparently if the example of the black sheep in the field is anything to go by . A multitude of inexperienced or unscrupulous journalists, after overnight excessive importance, have made a mess of a hitherto respectable profession.

    In the age of social media, whose power is an unfiltered double-edged sword, unsavoury results are sometimes produced as a result of an unlimited capacity to express yourself without fear or favour. It is some kind of accountability in itself, going into areas that old media could not venture into as easily.

    The latest development should serve as an example: it is time to look inwards. Breaking news is a tricky business; the ratings’ race is unchartered territory, which could lead to conscious and tacit victimisation of individuals and organisations. It is time journalists accepted responsibility for the huge task resting on their shoulders vis-à-vis the authenticity and veracity of what they present. A culture of corrections, explanations, and apologies must be incorporated. The ability to accept an error has been thrown out of the window in today’s rat race of ratings. A system of concrete reprimands and censure must be implemented. In that regard, the suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court could apply a corrective, emhasising the importance of a proper system of veracity checks and balances. *

    SECOND EDITORIAL : The power duo

    What was so unexpected in the verdict passed by the Supreme Court (SC) in the Malik Riaz vs Dr Arsalan case? Other then thickening the air already laden with conspiracies and speculation, the suo motu notice taken by the SC on the alleged shady business deal between Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan did little good. Now by letting the case follow its due course, the ball has rolled to where it should have originated in the first place. Indeed the order passed by the SC to the Attorney General of Pakistan to take strict action against both the parties is commendable; however, the suo motu notice failed to live up to its billing. For one, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry should have distanced himself from the case of his own son from the very beginning. He initially announced he would head the bench hearing the case. Fortunately, he recused himself quickly, so no further damage was done. Now that the Attorney General has been instructed by the SC to set in motion the wheels of the law and justice against Dr Arsalan and Malik Riaz, both the judiciary and the government are in for an acid test. The credibility of the judiciary would be tested with the father of one accused heading the apex court. The impartiality of the government would be tested with the friends of the other accused sitting at the helm of affairs. What will perhaps decide this conundrum is how the government sets in motion an investigation into the case, with a possible trial to follow.

    This melodrama has brought into the spotlight certain issues that should not be taken for granted anymore. One, the habit of taking suo motu notice should be exercised with greater circumspection from now on. Two, the government should make serious efforts to pursue corruption wherever and whenever it is found, without regard to how high and mighty the perpetrators may be. Three, media persons should refrain from aligning with the power structure to cash in on their clout and influence. Four, by condemning bribery, the apex court has directed us to redefine our materialistic culture, making it less lethal and more productive. Steeped in blunders, Pakistan is passing through critical times. Lest we slip onto the wrong side any further, let us move towards an open and transparent system that shines a probing light on any and all shenanigans that bring a bad name to the country.


  • Sanaullah for action against Meher, Lucman, Malik Riaz
    By: NNI | June 15, 2012, 6:30 pm | 0

    Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has demanded action against Mubashir Lucman, Meher Bukhari and Malik Riaz.
    Talking to media on Friday, he said Mian Amir Mehmood, owner of Dunyia News, was Malik Riaz of the future.
    He said that those who used to expose politicians in their shows had now exposed. “I salute the journalist who air the video footage,” he said the nation could not appeased without taking action against the anchors.
    The law minister said the nation was standing by the Supreme Court of Pakistan instead of media, lawyers and politicians.
    “How Mian Amir Mehmood became a billionaire while himself say he used to travel on a scooter in 1990,” he said.


  • Debating legalities: Riaz’s counsel insists NAB can investigate Dr Arsalan case
    By Our Correspondent
    Published: June 16, 2012

    Statement follows accountability bureau chief’s declaration that case does not fall under its purview. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS
    A day after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief expressed inability to take action in the Dr Arslan Iftikhar case, the legal counsel for the man behind the accusations on Friday insisted that the bureau can investigate the financial impropriety case.
    “I am sure that either he (misunderstood) or the statement he gave yesterday that NAB cannot investigate this case, is not his own,” said Advocate Zahid Bukhari, counsel for real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.
    Addressing the media, Bukhari added that “proper legal assistance” was not provided to NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari, which resulted in such a statement. He said that according to Section 9 and 18 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999, NAB can investigate such cases.
    Section 9 of the NAO which relates to corruption and corrupt practices committed by a holder of public office or any other person is cognizable under the NAB ordinance. Section 18 (cognizance of offence) says the Accountability Court can only take cognizance of any offence upon a reference by the chairman.
    Riaz’s counsel said that Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir had quoted examples of cases where NAB had, in the past, investigated private cases as well.
    “However, I do not demand that they should, but you should read Section 9 and Section 18 and then decide,” he added. Bukhari further said that it will be the attorney general’s prerogative to decide who investigates the case.
    Malik Riaz has accused Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, of receiving Rs340 million from him on the promise of getting cases pending in the Supreme Court settled in his favour.
    During the proceedings of a suo motu case on the issue, the Supreme Court in its short order directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to proceed according to the law and take required action against business tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Salman and the chief justice’s son Arsalan Iftikhar.
    Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the court that the case came under the ambit of Section 18 (4) of the NAB Ordinance.
    However, NAB chief Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari had said that the case did not fall under the purview of the bureau. “The Arsalan Iftikhar case is between two individuals and it has no financial implications on the national exchequer. It seems that it does not come under the NAB Ordinance, 1999,” he said.
    Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.


  • Laibaah ‏@Laibaah1
    ISI released the video in order to remind Malik Riaz that his masters sit in Aabpara, not in the PM House.
    Why did ISI leak Dunya TV video is to be compared to why did ISI arrest Mullah Baradar. Malik Riaz was bypassing them!

    Meher Bokhari is owned by Mian Amir is owned by General Kayani. All activists (Beena & Na Beena) know that but won’t admit.

  • Media war takes eye off hard times
    From the Newspaper | Khawar Ghumman | 4 hours ago 0

    Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz (C) waves to members of the media as he leaves after appearing before the Supreme Court in Islamabad, June 12, 2012. — Photo by Reuters
    ISLAMABAD, June 15: The airing of an off camera discussion between two talk show hosts and a property tycoon has instigated a war of sorts between news channel as Dunya recovered from Thursday’s embarrassment and launched an attack on a rival.

    Mehr Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman, who till recently worked with Dunya News, were shown interacting with Malik Riaz, a controversial property tycoon, during the commercial breaks, when the three were off air. They were seen discussing questions and chatting in a manner which suggested that the interview was pre-planned to an extent. Since the airing of the footage, it has been made public that Lucman has been suspended.

    This off air footage was uploaded on the internet on Thursday afternoon and by evening it was the talk of the talk shows on many channels. This included Geo Television, whose talk show host, Hamid Mir, had also made an appearance in these unguarded conversations. Mir’s programme also discussed this footage, especially criticising Mubashir Lucman.

    By Friday, Dunya had decided to hit back.

    Throughout the day, Dunya’s news bulletins accused Geo of having conspired to embarrass Dunya because it had overtaken Geo in ratings.

    It claimed that the footage was leaked in a conspiracy to undermine its rising popularity – and the culprit was Geo TV.

    By the evening, the rest of the news channels also returned to this controversy, most of them presenting the issue differently depending on their political inclination and talk show hosts were expounding on what they thought were the corrupt and unethical practices within their ranks.

    At the same time, the controversy also found a new audience — the Supreme Court judges.

    The full court meeting that had been called before this footage made it to the internet was used — partly — to watch this footage.

    While the judges watched Lucman and Bokhari ask what Riaz would like for dinner, they also reprimanded the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman, Dr Abdul Jabbar, for allowing the airing of the controversial material uninterrupted.

    All this was covered by the news channels – live. News bulletins show Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry scolding the Pemra chief.

    But even this could not eclipse the fightback strategy of Dunya.

    Geo didn’t respond to this assault in its news bulletins on Friday.

    When contacted, Hamid Mir stuck to his position of a day earlier and said that the issue needed a thorough investigation both at the level of journalist associations and of the government.

    But if there was a section of society that enjoyed this spectacle it was the political class, which for once was spared a grilling as talk shows picked each other to pieces and reached out to politicians for support.

    Maryam Nawaz Sharif, daughter of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif tweeted: “clash of the titans. For the 1st time politicians are the spectators and not the victims. Media now seeking politicians for their rescue!!”

    As they were called on air to comment on the issue, politicians got ample opportunity to offer advice to the very people who have been grilling and interrogating them for years. And for once they could tell someone other than their own ilk to carry out accountability and eliminate corruption.

    Nadeem Afzal Gondal of PPP argued that television anchors had been very unforgiving towards politicians and had encouraged members of rival political parties to fight with each other. He felt that now it was time for journalists to look at their own industry. “It will be better if journalists sit together and resolve their issues, instead of washing their dirty linen in public,” he added.

    Sharing his personal experience, Khawaja Asif of the PML-N said, on a show, that recently when he was accused of being a dual national, news channels ran the ‘fact’ without checking it. “It was absolutely wrong.”

    He asked the talk show host, “Now you tell me, how can I rectify this malicious campaign that has tarnished my image?”

    Qamar Zaman Kaira, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, also told a news channel that it was the responsibility of the media organisations to formulate some code of ethics and then implement it.

    Whether the weekend will bring a fresh bout in this war remains to be seen.


  • The perfect storm

    Babar Sattar
    Saturday, June 16, 2012 From Print Edition

    The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

    The conspiracy narrative is appealing. Pakistan’s makeshift accountability system comprises the media and the judiciary. The media brings into public focus stories of corruption of the ruling elite and the court takes suo motu notice, orders inquiries, stipulates timeframes, assumes supervisory responsibility and produces legal consequences for illegal conduct.

    Take away the role of the media and the Supreme Court and the plunder of state largesse would be a no-holds-barred affair. As the power of the judiciary and even the media is largely rooted in probity and credibility, take that away and the distinction between those being judged and those doing the judging vanishes into thin air. And hence the Riaz Malik exposé that maligns the judges and the journalists by dragging them into the cesspool he lords over.

    All this is fine. But what is the one factor outside the control of someone like Malik Riaz that makes such grand conspiracy work? Free will? Could he contrive moral failings or defects amongst the righteous that he could later expose? Even if we assume that the ‘evil’ Malik meticulously laid out a trap for unsuspecting decent folk (there’s much talk of entrapment these days) was he holding a gun to their heads forcing them to take a dip in the cesspool?

    Can it be that we are all mad at Malik Riaz because he has shown us the mirror and our reality makes us nauseous? Is he lying through his teeth when he says money makes the mare go? Is he maligning the judiciary if he suggests that our justice system is corrupt? If we didn’t name names, wouldn’t we all agree that graft is firmly entrenched in the media business?

    Can there be a simpler, non-conspiratorial explanation for Malik Riaz’s actions? Let’s consider this. Here is a man who has mastered the art of using money to make things happen. He has accumulated a heap of money and created a spoils system outside the structure of the state for the benefit of all segments of the power elite. He believes everyone wants a piece of the forbidden fruit.

    He is not greedy and is willing to share the boodle with everyone who has power. He believes he is not wicked for in an otherwise dysfunctional state he is delivering value as a developer and paying his dues to the society through charity programmes. So why expose and jeopardise the ‘public-private partnership’ that has been working so well?

    Could it be a combination of fear and anger? Malik Riaz got afraid when his son was booked for murder in the car-racing incident. He felt his son was being unfairly implicated. There were other cases picked up by the Supreme Court in suo motu jurisdiction that took the long arm of criminal law to the person of Malik Riaz. For once he found himself at the wrong end of the system. He instinctively tried to buy his way out of the mess. As the crucial matters were before Court One in the SC, no one lesser than the CJ himself could help. He engaged the CJ’s son. The son happily accepted the largesse lavished upon him but did not deliver. This provoked anger. Pakistan was a sordid place, but so sordid that there was no honour left amongst thieves either?

    And Arsalan Iftikhar alone did not arouse the anger. What was the point of years of ‘sharing and caring’ if in his hour of need no one was able to shield him? As time passed, the SC continued with its proceedings and Arsalan Iftikhar with his merry-making on borrowed money, the frustration mounted. The code of conduct in the dark world was clear enough. If you take money, you get the job done. If you can’t, you return the money and apologise. If you do neither, you’re not a freeloader but a blackmailer. And so Malik Riaz went postal. If he was going down, he certainly wasn’t going down alone. Could the government, the establishment, stop him? Maybe. But here came the congruence of interest. Who in the power elite wouldn’t benefit from a shamed and subdued Supreme Court?

    The challenge of reforming our state and society is herculean. But let he who has not sinned cast the first stone is what Malik Riaz seems to be saying. And the argument has resonance. Arsalan Iftikhar doesn’t preside over a court. By establishing through documentary evidence that Arsalan did actually accept monetary benefits and by alleging that the money was accepted in the Supreme Court’s name in order to influence the outcome of judicial proceedings, it is the integrity, independence and credibility of the SC that has been impugned. The charge levelled by Malik Riaz never was that the exercise of authority by the SC or the CJ had been influenced by illegal gratification. That was not the main cause of concern in public mind.

    The charge was that the CJ’s son had made a promise (in the name of the SC) in return for consideration and had failed to deliver. Consequently the questions and doubts in the public mind were threefold: One, did the CJ’s son accept money and benefits from Malik Riaz? Two, if so, was the receipt of money the outcome of genuine business dealings between private persons?

    And three, if the CJ’s son accepted money by creating an impression that he could get someone relief from the SC, would the SC prosecute him with the same fervour and rigor that it unleashes on those implicated in lesser corruption scandals? In not recognising and addressing these questions and concerns in the Arsalan Iftikhar-Malik Riaz case, the Supreme Court has seriously erred.

    The three failings evident in the Supreme Court ruling are these. One, the assertion that the court usually refrains from exercising its inquisitorial powers under Article 184(3) isn’t backed by the court’s record in the many corruption cases it has handled recently. When it assumes supervisory jurisdiction and issues categorical directions and timeframes for inquiries in other scandals, why leave this matter to the attorney general? Application of restraint in one case and activism in others without any significant distinction in the subject matter raises the question of whether the court is applying double standards.

    Two, the court celebrates the role of the media when it highlights scandals implicating executive officeholders, but issues a sermon when the media acts as a whistleblower in a graft case involving the CJ’s son. There is no denying that the media needs its own code of ethics, but a case involving the alleged impropriety of the CJ’s son might not have been an opportune time to drive home the point. Additionally, here the media did not allege any facts that are untrue. So having stumbled on an embarrassing story regarding the CJ’s son, should it have simply shoved it under the carpet in the ‘larger national interest’?

    And finally, to assert that the concerns in public mind stand addressed because Malik Riaz has submitted in writing that court verdicts weren’t affected by his bribes is to miss the point completely. This man sits on national TV for two hours and continues to hurl accusations at the CJ and his son and the honourable court asserts the very next day in a detailed judgment that the matter now rests. Such naïveté lends credence to SC detractors who allege that we are living in an era of selective justice.

    In its handling of the Arsalan Iftikhar case the Supreme Court might have squandered a vital opportunity to salvage its reputation as a neutral arbiter of the law. Now if Malik Riaz is punished it will be called a vendetta. And if he is let off, it’ll be seen as a deal. Welcome to Orwell’s Pakis-farm: all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

    Email: sattar@post.harvard.edu


  • Shahbaz denies receiving Rs850 mln from Malik Riaz
    South Asian News Agency (SANA) ⋅ June 15, 2012 ⋅ Share/Save

    LAHORE, (SANA): Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has denied he had received Rs850 million from Real Estate tycoon Malik Riaz for Ashiana Housing Scheme.

    Speaking to newsmen after opening new vegetable and fruit market (Friday), Shahbaz Sharif said the contract was given to the company which offered the lowest bid for Ashiana Housing Scheme.

    He said that he will soon bring facts before the media in this regard, adding he is the servant of the public and could not take anything from Malik Riaz. He said that Ashiana Scheme is for the poor people of the province and this project will continue in future also.

    He said that in his presence no one court loot the exchequer of Punjab, adding that the 1.25 billion rupees were saved in second bid of the Ashiana Housing Scheme. He said that if the bidder has any relation with Malik Riaz we have concern with it, adding that the facilities of rich housing societies are given in the Ashiana Housing Scheme.

    He said that 403 shops will be established at the Fruit Market and shops will be allotted to all old traders and the remained shops will be allotted after fair bidding. He said that 1.04 billion rupees will be spent on the construction of fruit market. He said that if the WASA will not perform its timely we will make it NASA, adding that the work on the fruit marker will be completed in six months instead of one year.


    Shahbaz denies deal with Riaz
    By: Our Staff Reporter | June 16, 2012 | 1

    LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has denied the allegations of receiving Rs 850 million, which the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz alleged to have paid for the Ashiyana Housing Scheme.
    Talking to newsmen after opening a new vegetable and fruit market on Friday, Shahbaz said the contract was given to the company which offered the lowest bid for the housing scheme, adding that there was no question of getting money from anyone.
    INP adds: Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said the hefty amount of Rs 70 billion reserved for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) should be spent on electricity projects.
    “Pakistan needs electricity to run industry; Rs 70 billion of Benazir Income Support Programme should be spent on electricity projects,” the chief minister, who is on social media, tweeted. “Minar-e-Pakistan tent-office is for solidarity with the people and protest against discriminating Punjab by unequal loadshedding,” he tweeted later.


  • From Yunis Habib to Malik Riaz — Dr Haider Shah

    Entrepreneurs that create wealth need recognition as national heroes. However, as Karl Marx says, money is power and in private hands, it becomes a personal power

    With the appearance of a ‘planted’ interview of Malik Riaz by a Lahore-based private channel, the fast paced and high-pitched drama that began with a whispering campaign has taken a new sensational turn. As a columnist of a national daily, I must say that I have been suffering from a kind of bipolar depression after reading news stories, op-ed pieces and watching various talk shows for the last few days. ‘It is the best of times, it is the worst of times’ is the line that best represents the pendulum-like movement of my emotional state after watching the conduct of various media personalities.

    At a bigger level, Pakistan appears to be like the mythical Sisyphus who is suffering from the curse of moving in circles. Whenever one feels that a new era has begun, the ghost of bygone periods is resurrected and we begin the same excruciating ordeal all over again. Just a few months ago, the Asghar Khan case helped everyone see how dirty money was used by the intelligence agencies to ‘manage’ the political process of the country. For the first time, the shady character, Yunis Habib was exposed and former heads of the military establishment were made answerable for their past actions. However, here we are, dealing with another storm with a new tycoon at the centre.

    Some time ago, an officer shared with me some interesting facts about Raja Zarat who was once just a clerk in the customs department. The clerk soon became chairman of Bawan Shah Group of industries and attained so much power that even collectors would seek his favour for postings. When his misdeeds became well known, he was arrested for a multi-billion rupees fraud. When asked why he was not arrested earlier, the answer was that he not only enjoyed the blessings of certain bigwigs of politics but intelligence agencies would also come to his rescue. Unfortunately, that is how a scheme of things works in reality behind the façade of patriotic slogans.

    Moneyed men are mostly very risk-averse individuals who normally are frightened by their own shadows. When they roar like lions one must, therefore, not take everything at its face value. If the dots are joined, one can have a feeling that bekhudi besabab nahi Ghalib (ecstasy is not without a cause Ghalib). The extra cautious prime minister suddenly started putting up a very defiant show in the wake of his contempt of court conviction. The government seems to have reached a strategic agreement with the security establishment as both consider the expanding power and the growing prestige of the independent judiciary a cause for concern. After opening the Pandora’s Box of the Asghar Khan case, the Supreme Court has started ignoring the red lines drawn by the security establishment, for instance, asking difficult questions in the missing persons cases. Just as the US and international jihadis forged a strategic alliance in the 1980s to deal with the more potent threat of the Soviet Union, one can see a possibility of a similar alliance developing between the present government and the security establishment. Riaz Malik’s boldness may therefore be on account of some assurances received from these seats of power.

    Sometime ago, I had written about the power of discourse and how various vested interest groups try to manipulate the social discourse by giving a strategic spin to observed facts. The Malik Riaz affair is also a good case study for understanding the mechanics of controlling the social discourse. First, let us examine the bare facts. A business tycoon has levelled an allegation against the son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan that he was looked after very well during his foreign visits by the family members of Malik Riaz and a few millions of rupees were spent on his protocol. The news is whispered into the ears of a few well-known media personalities, the Chief Justice takes a suo motu notice and the case is heard in the Supreme Court. Now these facts can generate three possible discourses. One, these allegations are baseless and one should not give them any attention. Second, these are allegations and can have a malicious motive, but must be properly investigated and whoever is found guilty must be punished. Third, the allegations are very serious and hence the Chief Justice must resign. If we wish to see rule of law and good governance flourish in the country, it is the second kind of discourse that we should promote. The most dangerous is the third type, which certain media personalities are trying to sell. Institutions are the sum total of the individuals that make them up and the values that drive the conduct of those individuals. If holding press conferences against the courts is not stopped, the state will disintegrate soon.

    No individual should be punished just because we feel jealous of his rags to riches story. Entrepreneurs that create wealth need recognition as national heroes. However, as Karl Marx says, money is power and in private hands, it becomes a personal power. The law should deter amassing of wealth through dubious means or its abuse in any form. Just today, a tycoon Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in jail by a US court for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 30,000 individual investors of more than $ seven billion. We need to see the same long reach of the law, which should facilitate genuine entrepreneurs in Pakistan but must award exemplary punishments to those that use money to create more money by trying to purchase opinion makers and honourable judges of the country.

    The writer teaches public policy in the UK and is the founding member of the Rationalist Society of Pakistan. He can be reached at hashah9@yahoo.com


  • عجیب بات ہے کہ یہ منصوبہ آئی ایس آئی نے بنایا اور پروگرام کے دوران گیلانی کے بیٹے کا فون آیا۔ عجیب بات ہے واقعی عجیب بات ہے۔