Jang Group faced allegations of being pro-US, pro-Taliban: spokesman -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Jang Group faced allegations of being pro-US, pro-Taliban: spokesman

Reality exposed, critics’ eyes should open now!

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman of the Jang Group has contradicted the allegations levelled by the US Embassy in the shape of whatever has appeared in the press with reference to WikiLeaks in the last few days.

Jang Group has made it clear that Dawn had furnished a list of allegations against the Jang Group levelled by the US Embassy and had sought our viewpoint on our demand. In the light of these lists we had contradicted the allegations in a detailed reply. The reply was based on solid arguments, facts and evidence. So much so that we even made an offer to this newspaper that they could be apprised of correspondence made so far between the Jang Group and the US Embassy.

The spokesman regretted that in spite of the fact that each and every allegation was replied to and contradicted, the newspaper thought it fit to publish ex parte the list of allegations against us and that too without our reply. Besides another newspaper also published the news without getting the viewpoint of the Jang Group.

The following is the detailed reply we had sent to the above-mentioned newspaper.

Like large media groups elsewhere in the world that are assailed by opposing sides for both being soft and hard on a particular issue, we too have been accused of being pro-America and pro-Taliban, pro-Israel and anti-Semitic, pro-dictatorship and pro-lawyer’s movement, and pro-military and pro-India and of political partiality by various political parties, all at the same time.

We take these contradictory allegations as a positive sign that confirms our commitment to the pursuit of truth and to the plurality of ideas. It is an open secret that those accusing us of following pro-US, pro-Israel, pro-India policies are people/ parties belonging to various schools of thought, not limited to a particular group. Such allegations prove that the policies of the group are uniform for everyone and the group is trying to serve the country in line with best journalistic principles. Therefore, the allegations made in the WikiLeaks cables are vehemently denied.

1-The US embassy did write to us twice about some of our stories and talk shows. Not once have they suggested that they have “evidence the Jang group is consciously publishing and broadcasting false and inflammatory stories …” The claim that the Jang Group ‘admitted’ that this was being done to maintain or increase market share is obviously ludicrous. Even if this accusation were correct – and we would like to stress that nothing could be further from the truth – why would we volunteer this self indicting admission?

We had, in fact, said that the market demanded that the people of the country and the world should know the role being played by the United States, and the market is of truth and credibility.

The allegation that the Jang Group is pursuing market and market share alone and is not concerned about responsible journalism is strongly refuted. The allegation among other things insinuates that we are only interested in increasing our market share and revenue. The Jang Group and Geo compete using credibility, breaking news and diversity of opinion and many times these values result in less revenue and not more.

Supporting the lawyer’s movement that led to Pakistan’s first independent judiciary was not popular at the time we started to support it. Our efforts resulted in over 20 million dollars worth of losses as all four of our Network’s channels were shut for three months.

Within 48 hours of the Mumbai act, Geo broke the news that Ajmal Kasab was from Pakistan. This was not at all popular at the time and hundreds picketed outside our offices and a government senator tried to sue us for the ‘act of treason’. Two cases were filed against us in this regard. Similarly, when the Jang Group launched Aman Ki Asha, a campaign for peace between Indian and Pakistan, with the largest media group, the Times of India, several local media groups and political leaders accused us of being RAW and Jewish agents.

Recently we have launched a much-acclaimed campaign regarding taxes, raising the question that if we want an independent foreign policy, more than 2% of us have to pay for it. This is a very unpopular stance to take for a Group that is accused of only doing what the market ordered.

We had responded to each and every concern raised by the then US Ambassador Anne Patterson. In most of the incidents mentioned by her, we had provided ample opportunity to the US embassy to deny the contents of our stories or to provide their point of view. Some accusations were refuted by us, while other stories were based on foreign wire service reports.

2-It is an incorrect allegation that violence against Qadianis was advocated in a programme of Geo. The transcripts of this programme are available and can be easily checked. We do not have a policy of inciting violence against any group or religion and no one has ever been caused any harm because of our programmes or policies.

In fact, we have a policy as well as a belief to respect all religions and have promoted interfaith harmony and intra-religious unity in creative and bold ways. We always respected the rights of minorities and have tried to celebrate them and their rights, which are also guaranteed by our Constitution as well as Islam.

It is the part of the record that we are the first in the country who invited priests and pundits to our religious programmes to promote religious harmony.

3-The war on terror and the relationship between the US and Pakistan have been shrouded in secrecy. Both governments have faced scathing scrutiny from the local as well as international press. It has never suited the governments to reveal details of the presence of US marines, CIA operatives (like Raymond Davis), and operations of Blackwater and other US/CIA contracting security agencies etc in Pakistan. The collection of news reports is very difficult when governments observe secrecy. Despite attempts at secrecy, some of the reports carried by the Jang Group as well as some international media not only revealed details about these issues but they have also been confirmed by WikiLeaks and later developments.

4-If the US embassy recommended that the contract to broadcast VOA contents be cancelled, then obviously VOA did not see much merit in that recommendation. At no point has VOA, which has an independent board and is not run like our Pemra, ever put any pressure on us regarding editorial policies. We will cancel this contract, if pressure is exerted on us from any side to compromise journalistic ethics.

Our history, specially recent history, bears testimony to our group being politically and commercially victimised because of the independent policies we have followed. Our support for the resolution of disputes through dialogue – even with India and the Taliban – is a matter of record and we have faced many accusations because of it.

We are open and transparent about our causes and policies and have even gone to court against people and organisations accusing us of wrongdoing or malafide intent. In some cases our detractors have been forced to retract and apologize, while in some cases they have been served stay orders.

We are market leaders because of our accurate, credible and swift coverage and we have been recognized globally by various institutes for our balanced and at times fearless reporting including senior US representatives.

Our media group faces pressure from the government and private sector but we always prefer our professional responsibilities to commercial interests. We have a history of sustaining losses from every government, including this one, which tries to influence editorial policy by financial threats. Occasionally and unwittingly we err but we then seek to correct, clarify and when warranted regret. Jang Group has always believed in improving its coverage based on constructive feedback, and we will carry this tradition in future and hope others do so as well.
Source: The News
Date:6/12/2011