PML-N leader sues UK paper, Pak TV channel
By: Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: A Pakistani politician accused of “double-murder” in a number of newspapers is taking legal action in London against The Sun and a Pakistani TV channel. He is considering action against a number of other UK and international newspapers.
Nasir Mehmood — known widely Nasir Butt — who is Senior Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was accused in a sensational front page headline in Britain’s widest circulating tabloid that he posed a security risk to the country when he visited Home Office with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif earlier this month and met Home Secretary Theresa May.
The front page picture showed Nasir Butt smiling as chief minister Punjab presented a traditional Pakistani shawl to the Home Secretary. The Sun questioned how Butt had managed to “slip into the heart of government” and why he was not subjected to a “rigorous vetting faced by anyone meeting a senior Cabinet minister.”
The paper stated that Butt has been “condemned to death by a Rawalpindi court in his absence.” A day after the publication of this report, the TV channel broadcast a programme in which the host allegedly set the agenda of the programme, displaying the Sun front page, by calling Mr Butt a Qatil (killer).
Christoper Hutchings , lawyer at Hamlins, who is acting on behalf of Nasir Butt, confirmed to this correspondent that a legal complaint has been initiated. He said the news coverage and TV show were “highly defamatory” and conveyed the message as if he had brought shame upon the political party with which he is involved, the Punjab Government led by PML-N stalwart Shahbaz Sharif and the British Government.
“My client instructs me that the allegations made are completely untrue and without foundation,” Hutchings said. He added that the allegations against Butt are “false” as Mr Butt left Pakistan prior to the murders of two brothers in 1996, following the murder of his own brother. Butt sought asylum in Britain in 1996 and he lived in London when the murders were committed in Pakistan and he has not been to Pakistan ever since.
Nasir Butt said in his statement: “I have been damaged by the false allegations. Facts were not checked before my name was tarnished in the media. I am living under stress as my children have told that their father is a killer, and I am also starting to see the effects that the allegations are having on my business. I was not offered an opportunity in the particular TV programme for my version and the newspaper chose to ignore the fact that the FIR in Pakistan was registered in my absence and I have never had anything to do with the killings. I condemn violence of any kind and believe in non-violent, democratic political struggle.”
It can be confirmed that The Sun had removed the article from its website on Thursday evening. When asked for a comment, a spokesperson at The Sun said a response will be issued soon.