Ansar Abbasi takes Sharmila Farooqui to court -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Ansar Abbasi takes Sharmila Farooqui to court

ISLAMABAD: Senior journalist and Editor Investigations of The News, Ansar Abbasi, has filed a case of defamation against special assistant to chief minister Sindh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqui after she failed to offer an unequivocal apology to the senior journalist for leveling unfounded and provocative allegations against him in a July 17, 2012 TV talk show. The district court Lahore has also issued a notice to Sharmila for November 13, 2012.

Barrister Ehtesham Amir-ud-din, advocate High Court, who had served the notice on Sharmila, has filed the case under Defamation Ordinance 2002 after she failed to apologise within the time specified in the legal notice served on her. Sharmila did not respond to the legal notice, which sought from the PPP leader an unequivocal apology within one-week time for her remarks, both in letter and spirit in the same manner as she advanced them.

Sharmila was also cautioned through this legal notice that if she failed to do so, civil and criminal proceedings would be initiated against her. The legal notice also demanded damages caused to the senior journalist, which according to Barrister Ehtesham could not be measured in monetary terms however tentatively the same were fixed at Rs150 million.

The legal notice had clarified that the levelling of unfounded and defamatory allegations on television amount to an act of defamation as defined under Section 3 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002 (“Ordinance”), which is punishable and actionable as libel under the Ordinance. “Should you (Ms Farooqi) choose to ignore this notice and act in terms hereof, I have instructions from my client to commence both civil and criminal proceedings against you,” Barrister Ehtesham had noted in the notice.

It is important to mention here that Sharmila Farooqui, her father Usman Farooqi and mother Anisa Farooqui were accused by NAB of committing mega corruption through a 2000 reference and later in 2001 in less than a year, all the three accused had brokered a plea bargain deal with the NAB authorities and returned the looted money.

In April 2001, under this plea bargain deal approved by NAB court, Sharmila, her father and mother stood disqualified to hold any public office for next 21 years. However, the NAB law was amended later and this period was reduced to ten years. Sharmila was appointed as advisor to CM Sindh in 2008 despite her disqualification to hold any public office starting from 2001. Ansar Abbasi had filed a story on “illegal” appointment of Sharmila Farooqui as Sindh cabinet member on May 12, 2010.

It is quite interesting that after a lapse of over two years of the publication of this news story, which also contained Ms Farooqi’s version and was never denied by her, she came up in a TV Talk show with slanderous allegations against the senior journalist. It is also pertinent to mention here that the matter relating to the “illegal” appointment of Sharmila Farooqui despite her disqualification is also pending with the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Legal notice served on Sharmila also noted: “That my client enjoys utmost respect in society as a professional journalist owing to his honesty and integrity.

He has played a remarkable role in the field of journalism and has worked all his life for freedom of speech, expression, right to know and development of journalism in Pakistan, however your defamatory remarks and the false allegation of demanding Rs10 crore from you as bribery have not just damaged his reputation and credibility but have also insulted his noble efforts for the development of independent journalism in Pakistan.”

The News