Peshawar: Central Information Secretary PTI, Shireen Mazari, today informed that the PTI Central Office Islamabad had received a fax copy of a defamation legal notice against Chairman Imran Khan on 29th October 2013 – a day after part one of his interview was aired by ARY television, on behalf of the registered companies that
own Jang/Geo Group.
Inter alia, the Notice had demanded of the Chairman that he stop the broadcast of his interview of 28th October on ARY channel – as “the language and the conclusive tone” the Chairman allegedly used in the interview “is highly defamatory and unacceptable”!
Mazari made it clear that Chairman Imran Khan stood by every word of what he said in his interview with Mubashar Lucman for ARY television channel. The Chairman stated categorically that any allegations regarding ANY media house relating to money coming from abroad and allegedly creating links with foreign intelligence agencies must be properly investigated as “it was a very serious matter.”
The Chairman reiterated that regardless of which media house was alleged to be involved in any such activity an investigation was in order. Yes the Chairman PTI’s tone was resolute in demanding such an inquiry rather than coming to a conclusion on his own. It is bizarre to accuse a political leader or any citizen of defamation merely because they demand an inquiry into what are serious allegations involving the security of the country.
Mazari asked what was defamatory in demanding an inquiry into what is clearly a serious matter in order to ascertain the truth/veracity or otherwise of the allegations. Since Chairman Khan did not take the name of any media house when demanding an inquiry, the defamatory note itself can be subject to a defamatory legal notice to the media house sending it.
It is not without irony that the legal notice also puts a strong defence on behalf of the Hindustan Times! The legal notice also takes issue with the Chairman for questioning the manner in which rights for broadcasting a Pakistan cricket series were obtained by Geo. Again, it seems a political leader cannot even ask a question about how such rights were distributed and why PTV chose to stay out of the bidding. According to Mazari, this is truly absurd as demands for transparency is part of the democratic process and such questions are being raised in Parliament also.
As Parliamentary leader of the second largest political party in the country, Imran Khan has every right to seek an explanation of how contracts and bids are decided by the government. Where does defamation come in? Mazari queried. PTI Secretary Information stated that the legal notice seems to reflect a guilty mindset where muzzling of free speech is being asserted and there is clear character assassination of the Anchor who conducted the interview. Those who demand freedom of expression/speech for themselves Clearly cannot stomach it for others. The guilt and arrogance of Geo/Jang group is absurd especially when they query Khan giving an interview to Lucman. Who are they do decide who is fit to be given an interview? Mazari asked.
She pointed out that the Chairman PTI had shown an exceptional level of tolerance to criticism and personalized attacks against him not only on Geo channel but also in the Jang newspaper – where a weekly column is being used to malign him with a tirade of unsubstantiated allegations. In a letter to Mir Shakeel ur Rahman, dated 15th October, Mazari had protested “the gross abuse that PTI Chairman Imran Khan is being subjected to in the name of political humour on Geo” to the point of being “ unacceptable in terms of insinuations and ridicule.” (Copy of the letter is attached).
Despite all this, Mazari asserted that PTI had chosen not to take legal action against Geo/Jang group so far. However, after this absurd and almost dictatorial defamation legal notice served on the Chairman, PTI will re-examine all its options. Meanwhile, Mazari, stated categorically that the Chairman stands by all his comments in the interview to Lucman and PTI stands firmly behind its Chairman and the position he has taken which reflects the Party’s consensual sense. “We cannot be bullied into compromising on our democratic right of freedom of speech; nor can we be cowed down into keeping quiet when questions are raised that impact the country’s wellbeing and security,” Mazari concluded.