By: Farooq Hameed Khan
In the very first television talk show, shortly after Declan Walsh’s story in New York Times (NYT) on the Axact degrees scandal, followed by the unprecedented and well-coordinated hype by our media, my reaction was spontaneous.
I had no doubts then and still maintain that Axact was only an excuse, with BOL being the real target.
The Axact type story was not typical of the expertise of Walsh, whose skills are more directed towards writings related to security and international affairs.
Having been declared persona non grata in May 2013, for his anti-Pakistan activities, would relish any story that would tarnish Pakistan’s image in the international community.
The story can be said to be the first phase of the overall script designed to ‘get BOL’, where it seemed as if certain media giants were waiting for this ‘breaking’ story to malign Axact and its owners, and create the anti BOL environment.
A Pakistani newspaper even exposed the nexus between one of our leading media groups and its Indian friends to target Axact so as to block BOL.
If this company had broken the law and brought a corrupt name to the country, then the law must take its natural course.
Then why were our agencies unaware of any such business by Axact all these years, where why has this crackdown occurred now and not a few years earlier? Is it because Axact’s BOL media group was soon to be launched as the largest and most high tech media group of the country?
How could BOL be allowed to dominate the Pakistani electronic media and break the so called monopoly of a particular media group that not only enjoys the tacit support of ruling party but also whose interests are considered close to its Indian friends? Pakistanis are no fools and understood the great game at very outset of anti Axact/BOL campaign, where this exposed the inherent alliance between the ruling elite and once biggest media group of the country which fell from grace after its showdown with ISI in early 2014.
Axact, which is BOL’s mother organization, had to be targeted if BOL was to be blocked from a successful launch.
They wanted it’s ‘death before birth’.
Pakistanis were amazed at the lightning speed, shock and raids conducted by the country’s elite, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that stormed Axact’s offices all over the country.
Within hours the FIA investigators had gotten hold of the company’s records, computer data/softwares and arrested many key Axact officials including their top executives.
Never before in Pakistan’s history can we recall such wonderful display of brilliance and efficiency by any of our elite investigation agencies.
Within days the FIA not only completed its preliminary investigations as well as forensic examination of seized data, but also produced Axact’s CEO before the court duly handcuffed as if he was a notorious criminal.
And not to forget the competence of our otherwise inactive Interior Minister who ordered immediate coordination with Interpol and the American FBI as well.
The Axact saga proved that our agencies have the capacity to deliver speedy results if and whenever the government of the day wants them to do so.
Pakistanis wonder why FIA has not been able to show similar speed in getting to the bottom of the Asghar Khan case, especially when the Supreme Court has clearly nominated the high profile main accused and alleged beneficiaries in its historic judgment.
In the Ayyan Ali case the nation is entertained to a weekly catwalk by the super model from her ‘VVIP’ jail premises to the court, where there seems a determined effort to let her backers go free simply because the government cannot afford the political backlash from PPP’s top leadership, whose reported involvement in this scandal is making the rounds of social media.
In this process, the Customs department lost a smart investigator who was reportedly murdered in mysterious circumstances.
And once again, why has there been the deliberate delay in investigating the reportedly 400 billion rupees mega money laundering scam involving the flight of capital to Dubai?
While many parliamentarians were disqualified for possessing fake degrees, no serious effort was ever made by our investigation agencies or even regulatory authorities like Higher Education Commission, to charge the fake degree mill owners operating in the country.
Also, if Axact’s CEO is behind bars for fake degrees, then what about the top leadership of leading media group spearheading the anti Axact /BOL campaign, which faces many blasphemy cases in Pakistani courts?
Axact’s highly ambitious leadership must also share the blame for all the misfortune that befell their group.
There was no need for those remarkable salaries, perks and privileges, which were totally unrealistic in our media’s environment and working conditions.
This aspect also went against financial interests of certain media groups which are used to exploiting the journalistic community, especially the middle and lower technical staff, while enjoying prosperity themselves.
The lucky media persons, who made it to BOL, became the subject of envy and professional jealousy by those unfortunate ones who failed to enter.
Had the financial packages been kept reasonable and still attractive, the resistance to BOL’s birth may have been lesser.
Furthermore one fails to understand why it took so long for BOL’s management to formally launch the media group.
With finances not being an issue, BOL should have hit the television screens long ago, also since its infrastructure was fully developed and manned by the best in this field.
Starting their test transmission during the crisis period was perhaps too late.
Had BOL been fully operational last year, perhaps the story would have been different.
In any case it is now the government’s responsibility to look after the interests and security of the affected families and ensure that all remaining BOL as well as many thousand Axact’s employees continue to receive their promised salaries as long as future of both these organizations remains in stagnation.
Those senior media anchors who earned millions during their stay with BOL and left the group after literally deserting over two thousand of their fellow journalist compatriots, cannot hold their heads with pride.
Instead of displaying selfishness and opportunism, they should have stood by their community in difficult times.