Amn Ki Asha was a good step, Mir Shakil, Jang/Geo wrongly blamed, regrets Lord Nazir
ISLAMABAD: “I feel regret”, said British MP Lord Nazir Ahmad while admitting that he had leveled serious allegations against Geo/Jang group and its Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman after he was approached and mis-fed by people representing a TV channel (ARY) in Pakistan.
“A subsequent investigation carried out by myself proved all the allegations against Geo/Jang group and its editor-in-chief proved wrong and baseless,” commented Lord Nazir, who repeatedly said he felt regret for hurting the group.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, a renowned British-Pakistani, who has been in active politics in the United Kingdom since 1990, is a well-known figure in Pakistan as well. His efforts for welfare of the Muslim community in the UK as well as for Pakistan have made him a popular figure here.
At a time when Geo/Jang Group passed through very hard times after firing on Hamid Mir, many people joined the ranks against the group and leveled serious allegations against it. Lord Nazir Ahmed was among those who leveled very serious allegations against Geo/Jang.
The Geo/Jang Group, however, adopted a legal course against him instead of any illegal methods. In Britain, the issue between Lord Nazir and Jang Group has reached the courts. However, it is a good development that after his research, he found his allegations wrong and has admitted his mistake without waiting for a court verdict.
Talking to Geo News, Lord allegations he leveled against Geo/Jang group. According to him, he was misinformed by some people associated with a TV channel and some businessmen. Below is the detailed interview of Lord Nazir with Saleem Safi in his programme ‘Jirga’.
Salim Safi: The campaign that you ran against Jang and Geo and people like us, someone requested you for this purpose “to help us”.
Lord Nazir: Look, I didn’t run any such campaign against Jang and Geo which, in my view, had been my personal (effort/wish). However, there are certain things which I was told; things were told but I’m grateful to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman Sahib. A lot many things have been cleared after meeting with him. I feel regret for the things that were wrong that in this manner a good institution, a patriotic institution was hurt, because of me….
Salim Safi: You talked about the truth. There is a programme “Khara Sach (Plain truth)”of our respected Mubasher Lucman Sahib that was telecast on ARY TV on November 13, 2013, then on November 26, 2013 and then on December 21, 2013; you made strange claims about Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, about his group and leveled allegations even of treason. Then you also uttered strange things about ‘Aman ki Asha’. What is the truth in your eyes today? What conclusion did you arrive at after you conducted research and after you personally met people?
Lord Nazir: Look, ‘Aman ki Asha’ is a very good thing i.e. if you can bring about peace between India and Pakistan. Both are nuclear powers, but as a Kashmiri, I think that peace is very difficult without a basis for peace. Kashmiris should get right to self-determination, as the resolution of this matter is very essential. I am willing to accept this thing completely that the information that I was given that the funding of this campaign comes from abroad; I’ve conducted my research there. I did not find any such evidence.
Salim Safi: And you also leveled allegation with reference to the RAW that RAW and Indian(s) also want to support ‘Aman ki Asha’.
Lord Nazir: Certainly I said this… when someone gives you the information that too on paper. But when I investigated it and went into its details, I didn’t find any evidence. So, what is wrong, I am ready to acknowledge it that such a thing whose evidence… in any court or in any institution… The information that has come to the fore before me is that while I was given documents I was told that Pemra’s documents are also included in them but later on I came to know that courts, Supreme Court of Pakistan, had rejected that. So, I understand that after meeting with Mir Sahib, this thing has been cleared that there is no such thing at all.
Salim Safi: No, you…. Other people who are leveling this allegation the most on behalf of ARY, they have not provided you with evidence.
Lord Nazir: I don’t want to cite the name of any person. There are individuals as well as politicians and business people. Now what I’m saying is that probably they might be having their own problems with Geo, Jang. They might be having their own stories for which they needed one man/someone who could fight their war.
Salim Safi: But this allegation was also leveled by an authentic secret agency of Pakistan. They didn’t provide you with proofs.
Lord Nazir: Neither had they approached me nor did they extend me support of any kind. In my opinion, the truth is whether it be the secret institution of Pakistan or Pakistan Army, it will be absolutely wrong that somebody point out towards them. Yes, political people, businessmen, a few companions and friends of your competitor organisations, had said a number of things to me. Some anchors, some journalists had said things to me. When I sought evidence from them, on one hand the evidence was not credible, on the other, it was not sustainable.
Salim Safi: You knocked at all the doors.
Lord Nazir: I certainly went (approached)…since when I leveled an allegation on (some) basis as I didn’t wake up from a dream (and did this). I’m rather not acquainted personally with Mir Sahib. I respect Mir Sahib’s father very much and have been respecting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman Sahib very much. For several years, Geo, Jang have been supporting me rather after Allah SubhanahoowaTaala, the biggest support was extended to me by them during my 15 to 20 years in politics. When I did not see any evidence then I’m ready for backtracking from there for this reason also and for that reason, I have stated that.
Saleem Safi: But you did not raise these allegations once, otherwise we could say that some institution trapped you or some person misguided you. In daily Ummat, you voiced the same allegations revolving around Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation and Aman Ki Asha.
Lord Nazir: That was on the basis of the same programme you are talking about. Perhaps, a day after that, on the back of same, these questions were asked. Otherwise, I don’t think that you can talk of any other newspaper or TV channel.
Saleem Safi: Well, you think what was published by daily Ummat quoting you was also wrong?
Lord Nazir: I tell you, wherever it was published, wherever it was.
Saleem Safi: Or was it telecast.
Lord Nazir: I want to clarify it wherever it was telecast. See above all, when a man doesn’t have information and if there is any allegation based on disinformation, the man should admit it. And I repent that some persons had given me wrong information, this sort of information…
Saleem Safi: No, do you think whether these allegations were absolutely wrong, totally false or carried some truth?
Lord Nazir: I did not have any evidence in this regard.
Saleem Safi: Were they totally wrong?
Lord Nazir: I could not find any such evidence.
Saleem Safi: So, it means they were totally wrong.
Lord Nazir: What can be proved by that when I am saying that there was no evidence, so it is clear?
Safi: Ok, these issues were generated from there. You were given wrong documents or somebody provided you wrong information, but there was an issue regarding here and you had leveled these allegations in the same interview to ARY TV that the Jang Publications Private Limited and the Geo TV Limited, in England and Wales, are not paying salaries to their employees as per law. What does your research say about that?
Lord Nazir: Some friends came to me and leveled these allegations. Now you may better know that the UK’s Employment Laws are different. There are separate categories for full-time, contract, part-time or zero contract employees. I was told that they were not getting the minimum wages. And I repeated their version but, later on, I came to know through my investigation that they didn’t have that contract which could prove that the Geo/Jang Group had violated any British law.
Saleem Safi: Ok, that means that the service matters of Geo, Jang Group were being dealt with according to the local law.
Lord Nazir: The employees I am talking about told me they are employees but they had no legal documents or contracts or legal grounds to prove their claim. As per my investigation, people who work in these offices draw their regular salaries.
Saleem Safi: Ok, you raised a point about a matter which was to a great extent linked with your person and your position in British Parliament that the DFID funding or grant to Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation and it was your claim that it was in violation of the UK law, or Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation was being helped illegally. What’s your take on this issue now?
Lord Nazir: Salim Sahib, being a British member of the House of Lords, it is my right to question the British funding and grants to anyone. I think the British government gave about 550 million pounds to Pakistan in the last three years. I have been asking them about the whole British funding and where it is going. My questions were not specifically aimed at Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation only. It was about everybody. Of course, I had asked question as to how much, on what basis and through what channels these funds were provided for education awareness programme. After this questioning, I am satisfied that no misappropriation was committed in the acquiring of UK government funding to Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation.
Saleem Safi: So no violation of rules was committed in this process because you had said in the ARY interview that the Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation was being provided the funds illegally, which was not its right?
Lord Nazir: My question was based on the plea whether the competition was involved in the said funding. When the British government told me that no competition was needed and giving anyone any funding was its sole discretion, then there arose no question of further queries.
Saleem Safi: But, according to your research, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation qualified for that assistance.
Lord Nazir: Yes, I said the same.
Salim Safi: And the British laws were not violated?
Lord Nazir: Absolutely, not.
Salim Safi: That means we can conclude that the deal between Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation and DFID (Department for International Development) was conducted transparently.
Lord Nazir: It was transparent, absolutely.
Salim Safi: You see your position; you are a prestigious member of the House of Lords.
Lord Nazir: Yes, I am telling you that whatever was between the two sides was transparent. And I investigated for the same and came to know that the funding was provided transparently.
Salim Safi: One last thing, you had also leveled allegations earlier, then you conducted an investigation. I must appreciate you and call it your greatness that you admitted whatever you found wrong in the allegations. From all this process, what you have concluded? How do you rate Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and his organisations? Do you see Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as a patriot?
Lord Nazir: Look! I have told you, many misunderstandings have been cleared after my meeting with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. I found him as patriot as you and I am. This is another issue that my competitors in my profession would also indulge in propaganda against me. And the same is about him. But I didn’t find anything from which I may infer that God forbid he is not a patriot.
Salim Safi: Is he doing genuine journalism?
Lord Nazir: This could be stated only by journalists that what in his journalism is. But in my opinion, all media organisations of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman are credible. And, of course, his TV channels and newspapers are most popular in Pakistan.
Salim Safi: Whatever activities are carried out by Pakistanis, and especially Kashmiris, here. What do you say whether due coverage is given by these media organisations to the activities about Kashmir, or anti-India activities.
Lord Nazir: Yes, of course, due coverage is given to such activities. Rather, I would like to add that all other channels and newspapers also give due coverage to activities of Kashmiris and Pakistanis. There is no question of it that any media organisation can survive without giving proper support and coverage to Kashmir and Pakistan — Geo and Jang, too.
Saleem Safi: No, it is said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is very influential. Hasn’t he forced you through the British government or through some other government?
Lord Nazir: No, I have been living here for 45 years. I haven’t seen the influence of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman here.
Saleem Safi: Okay. What have you finally concluded after your investigation regarding Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation and the DFID issues?
Lord Nazir: You see, Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman is a big name and he has huge contribution for Pakistan. His charity foundation is working heavily on many issues in Pakistan. So, if I say that, according to my research, whatever funds they have received are in accordance with the law and the Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Foundation has received all funding, all money according to the British law.
Saleem Safi: These funds have been provided in accordance with the British laws and procedure.
Lord Nazir: The money was released according to the British laws and procedures.
Saleem Safi: Then we can say that Geo’s education campaign ‘Zara Sochiye’ was also good and lawful.
Lord Nazir: You can say both were legal and good because education is vital for the future generations of Pakistan. The British government is paying hundreds of millions of pounds for it and awareness about it is very necessary.
Saleem Safi: So, a respected personality like you made the Aman Ki Asha and Geo’s education campaign controversial. Do you feel sorry for it?
Lord Nazir: See, I regret that misunderstandings were created due to disinformation. I am thankful to you, Saleem Safi Sahib, that I am clarifying all this in your presence.