Journalist seen in Woolmer footage intends to go to court -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalist seen in Woolmer footage intends to go to court

KARACHI: The attempt by various television channels to malign Pakistan’s journalists covering the cricket World Cup in connection with the alleged murder of national cricket coach Bob Woolmer has been condemned.

Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, Senior Vice President Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, Sabihuddin Ghausi, President Karachi Press Club and Mazhar Abbas, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, were unanimous in their assessment that the credibility of the Pakistan media has been challenged by implicating two senior journalists of the country in a murder case.

Ehsan Qureshi, Senior Sports Reporter Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), who was one of the two journalists seen in the CCTV camera footage, was defended strongly by the local media corps during a crowded briefing here at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

“It was a greatly distressful feeling when the news broke out that I and fellow journalist Abdul Majid Bhatti of the Jang Group, were seen in the footage during our coverage of the ICC World Cup 2007 at Kingston, Jamaica,” Ehsan Qureshi remarked.

“The footage released by the BBC Television in their programme Panorama, subsequently carried by channels in various countries particularly India, created an impression of the two of us being the suspects in the alleged murder case of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who had died in a hospital in Kingston on March 18,” he observed.

“The images of two of us chatting with and inquiring about various cricketing matters from the Pakistan coach was actually of March 16 when we were passing through a lobby at Pegasus Hotel after a reception hosted by P J Mir, Pakistan’s media manager, in honour of the media corps of Pakistan, India and other countries covering the World Cup,” Ehsan recalled.

“Apart from the BBC and a number of Indian channels particular Aajtak and Star News, tainted us as suspects in the case which brutally tarnished my image, gave me mental torture and caused great inconvenience and anxiety to my family members, relations, neighbourhood, friends and colleagues who telephoned me from various corners of the world to know about my well being,” he continued.

“Since the footage was televised on numerous occasions on various networks, I was flooded with telephone calls from the media worldwide, eager to find out the truth. I immediately approached Justice Fakhurddin G Ebrahim, who advised me not to speak to the media until I explained to him the entire case in person,” Ehsan disclosed.

“Another noted lawyer, Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, volunteered to help me by taking up my case after returning from the federal capital where he was preoccupied in professional engagements. He returned from Islamabad only yesterday (Monday) that’s why this briefing could not be held earlier,” Ehsan said.

Khawaja Naveed, one of the most famous lawyers in the country, expressed his dismay at the irresponsible attitude of the television channels and threatened to take them to court for having attempted to bring Pakistan’s seasoned journalists into disrepute.

“I have known Ehsan Qureshi for decades. The entire journalism community knows that he’s a man of integrity. We can vouch for his honesty. Obviously he has been hard done by the footage shown repeatedly on channels portraying him as a suspect,” Khawaja Naveed reckoned.

“The television channels have tried to create an impression that he was one of the last persons to have spoken to Woolmer which is all rubbish because the footage was of March 16 and the time of the death was the midnight between March 17 and 18. Hundreds of people must have seen and spoken to Woolmer in the interim period,” he argued.

“We will leave no stone unturned in safeguarding the image and reputation of Ehsan Qureshi. We will seek the cooperation of fellow journalists bodies in India and England to initiate legal action against the television channels in their respective countries for having harassed an innocent Pakistani journalist who was their in the Caribbean to cover the World Cup,” Khawaja Naveed added.

Sabihuddin Ghausi, President Karachi Press Club, did not mince words in stating that the attempt to malign Ehsan Qureshi was actually an attempt to malign the whole media of Pakistan.

Mazhar Abbas, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), was of the opinion that there was no need to televise the footage again and again once the identity of the two gentlemen in the footage had been established and it was found out that both of them were working journalists.
Source: The News
Date:5/9/2007