Stories on Sita White, narcotics use,alleged affair with 21-year-old, other comments and programmes caused Imran's annoyance: Jang, Geo Group -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Stories on Sita White, narcotics use,alleged affair with 21-year-old, other comments and programmes caused Imran’s annoyance: Jang, Geo Group

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: The spokes person of the Jang/Geo Group has rejected the allegations levelled by Mr. Imran Khan against the Group and has stated that these unfounded and baseless allegations have been repeated many times and the answers to his mindless tirades are available on the Group’s website.

Mr. Imran Khan seems to have taken a leaf out of the fascist propagandist, Goebbels, who served as Hitler’s information minister. Goebbels infamously believed that if a lie is told persistently and repeatedly it is soon perceived as the truth. Mr. Khan has been audacious in his attacks which reveal an arrogant and stubborn mindset created by misplaced narcissism. This is unfortunate. Pride often goes before the fall, the spokesperson said.

The language Mr. Khan has employed has descended to the gutter level. His speeches are full of expressions that are normally associated with the bazaar. Note some of them: I will hang them upside down. I will drag them out of their homes by force. I will hang them with my own hands. I will throttle them with my bare hands. They are trembling with fear and have wet their pants. Shame on you! This is hardly the language expected of a leader. The tone and tenor is threatening and full of incitement to violence and mutiny. The irony is that he begins his speeches by reciting the verses from The Holy Quran and then stoops to the level of the gutter.

The Quran says that one of the primary qualities of a leader is his soft tone and manner. Perhaps Mr. Khan has been affected by his domestic crisis and political failure. There can be no other explanation for his irrational behavior, the spokesman added. Thosewho are claiming to be the architects of a New Pakistan have not only targeted the Jang- Geo Group, their venomhas also been directed at honorable parliamentarians, judges, bureaucrats, police officials and people with impeccable reputations.

The people of Pakistan are bewildered by this bizarre behaviour. How can people who are constantly sermonising and lecturing the masses about values and culture stoop to such a level, the spokesperson asked. Mr. Imran Khan is neither a partner nor shareholder in our Group, nor does he have a dispute with us in this regard. He seems to have developed the same complaints and grudges against us that all previous governments and powerful groups have harboured against the Group. “These complaints are not about disputes over money or claims on property. Their anger has always been directed against our independent policies and journalistic ethics.

“Their wrath is against our pursuit of the truth and our speaking truth to power. Despite their opposition we have always tried to give all parties a chance to defend their position and have incorporated their version in our stories.” Mr. Imran Khan does not want to face independent journalists. He has been told that he should avoid attacking the journalist fraternity as it could backfire. He has therefore, decided, as a strategy, to attack our brand and our senior management because he believes they are easy targets and may not retaliate. Surely, he is aware that every line published in our newspapers and every story broadcast on our TV screens is the result of the hard work and dedication of our journalists.

The independence of our journalists is recognised and is often quoted as an example of genuine freedom of expression. We are proud of this legacy, the spokesperson said. When Mr. Imran Khan says that he has no complaints against journalists, he is not telling the truth. His real grudge is against journalists and their probing questions that dent his carefully built facade. Mr. Khan has complaints against four of our journalistswhowork for our newspapers and channels. He has openly asked us to rein in these journalists. He then categorically demanded that these journalists should apologise to him.When these demands were not met in the interest of free speech, he insisted that we sack these journalists.

This is the true story of his much trumpeted great love for journalists, the spokesman commented. The spokesman said that Mr. Khan has had grievances against the Group in the past but these were resolved after discussion and debates in a civilised manner. However, in recent times his attacks have become more vicious and unreasonable. There is a reason for this and perhaps it is time to remove the veil and look at the real motives behind his tirades. After certain incidents in the recent past, a campaign to destroy the Jang-Geo Group was initiated.

The strategy was to avoid any direct attack on journalists and to concentrate all attacks on the management and other responsible personnel of the Group. The plan was to defame, discredit and destroy the reputation of these individuals. They wanted to lower us in the eyes of the general public and taint us. Mr. Khan was told to join this ongoing campaign of vilification and add his voice to the hate speech emanating from certain quarters.

Once he joined this coterie of powerful people, Mr. Khan’s tone and demeanor changed. His language became a reflection of his handlers as he began to level the same allegations and peddle the same unfounded accusations with great zeal. He parroted the voice of his partners in crime to the point of caricature. He became an echo. He also called us traitors. He did not realise that we had served a legal notice on those forces that had accused us of treason.We have waited for four months and not a shred of evidence has been provided to us.

It was not an easy decision to serve a legal notice to such a powerful organisation. Only a group that is confident that it has nothing to hide would take such a step, the spokesman said. “We have no other choice but to also take Mr. Khan to court.” Mr. Khan has alleged that we receive funds from abroad to pursue a foreign agenda. One of the allegations is that we are receiving funds fromabroad, especiallywith regard to our Aman ki Asha campaign.

The fact is that this allegation of the receipt of foreign funds was proven wrong in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The whole world knows that Mr. Khan has close relationships with foreign countries and foreigners and receives funds from them for his activities. Those funding him remain anonymous.

He has received billions of dollars from institutions and individuals in the US and UK and has never disclosed the source of his funds. We are the only media group in Pakistan that Washington has complaints against.Mr. Khan can find evidence of this in the documents exposed byWikiLeaks. He should be aware that our policies are never based on ad-hocismor opportunism. We pursue longterm goals which are coherent and consistent. We have no hidden agenda. Our only agenda is Pakistan – a better, prosperous and stable Pakistan. This is why we have credibility and the people have unshakable trust in our brand. The spokesperson strongly rejected the allegations levelled byMr. Khan that the Group ran a campaign against the armed forces of Pakistan.

If Mr. Khan had made the effort he would have realised that our group has done countless programmes extolling the heroism and bravery of our armed forces and has always stood by them in every hour of trial, the spokesperson said. He would then have understood how deep our love and respect for the armed forces is and has always been. Mr. Khan and his cohorts have been given the target to create disharmony between our Group and the armed forces and to create confusion among our viewers and readers. His attempt to make us controversial will not succeed, the spokesperson added. The internationally renowned institution, Fair and Free Election Network (Fafen) has rejectedMr. Khan’s allegations that Geo was involved in election rigging, yet Mr. Khan continues to repeat this allegation like a broken record. “His ludicrous allegations that we were in league with Mr. Nawaz Sharif in rigging the election is a blatant lie.

If Mr. Khan had bothered to look at the Fafen report, available on our website , he would realise how absurd his allegations were,” the spokesperson added. The spokesperson said that Mr. Khan was being misled by certain forces. His allegations that the Group has had got any taxes exempted by the Nawaz Sharif government is totally baseless. He has threatened to take back every penny from our so calledwindfall and vowed to shut us down if he comes to power. This ‘friend’ of journalists should think twice before threatening the livelihood of thousands of journalists in our Group. Instead of exposing thosewho have tried to shut us down and brought us to the brink of financial ruin, Mr. Khan has chosen to stand with those very forces.He shares their aim to destroy our Group.

This is the same Group which was showered with praises by Mr. Khan in the not too distant past. He often said that he was a fan of our Group. “With a friend like this who needs enemies,” the spokesperson wondered. Mr. Khan avoids attacking journalists but has attacked the edifice that sustains their livelihood. This is all part of a nefarious design and Mr. Khan has chosen to implement it. He is cutting the very tree under whose spreading branches so many from the journalist fraternity have found shade and solace and shelter His allegations that the Group has evaded taxes are laughable and shoddy. The tax authorities know how much tax we pay.

They know how to extract taxes from any tax thieves. It is one of our cardinal principles that we cannot remain independent if our financial matters are not in order. Our relationships with governments have always been turbulent because of our independent reporting. If we were tax evaders, governments would be able to squeeze us and dent our independence and credibility. Mr. Khan does not know his history. If he did hewould not make such spurious allegations. Mr. Khan has alleged that when, in his previous tenure as PM, Mr. Nawaz Sharif served us with tax notices, we made it an issue of freedom of expression to extricate ourselves from alleged financial wrong doing.

Once again,Mr. Khan is ignorant of history. He should have asked the witnesses of this episode about the facts. He would then understand the truth. For this he does not have to go very far. He needs to just ask Shaikh Rasheed and Mushahid Hussain, who have intimate knowledge of the entirematter. Theywere eyewitnesses to the whole affair. The Jang Group took the matter to the Supreme Court. All journalists’ bodies, political and social activists, lawyers and especially the people stood by us against this assault on free expression. It was through their support and pressure that the matter was resolved. This is all part of the historical record. For the information ofMr. Khan, certain senior members of Mr. Sharif’s cabinet tried their best to incriminate us.

This was acknowledged by Mr. Sharif who apologised for it. In the recent past, Mr. Zardari and his predecessor General Musharraf both tried to punish us for our independent reporting. Virtually, 99 percent of our advertisements were blocked. They put hurdles in our path fromtime to time andMusharraf shut down the Geo TV Network for threemonths. They disrupted cable transmissions on numerous occasions and caused us losses of billions of rupees.

We have gone to the courts for relief. During Mr. Zardari’s tenure, we were accused of asking for Rs4 billion from his government. Mr. Khan acknowledged this in his many statements and praised our Group for not bowing to pressure.We have shown clips of his views on this subject on Geo. Mr. Khan has threatened that once he comes to power, he will sort us out. We say this with all humility that he can try. We are prepared because we have no skeletons in our cupboards. We have weathered many a storm. Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Zia ul Haq, Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf and Asif Zardari have all tried and failed to make us cower in fear and compromise. History tells us that our Group stood and fought for the principles enunciated in the constitution.

We have always kept the interest of the public supreme and have suffered financial losses as a consequence. In every era there have been some who have been happy with us and some who have been upset and angry with us. The spokesperson said that Mr. Khan had grievanceswith the Group in the past but his new found annoyance stems from some recent events. One of them relates to the coverage given to Arsalan Iftikhar who made new revelations about Mr. Khan’s alleged love child in various forums. These allegations were printed in all newspapers and broadcast on all TV channels.

Our journalists also investigated this matter and pointed out that this was an old case in which an American court had given its ruling on a complaint lodged by Mr. Khan’s alleged girlfriend, Sita White. The story with the background, new revelations and Mr. Khan’s and his party’s version was printed and broadcast. However, Mr. Khan’s anger at this story shows of no sign of abating. He was also upset about factual investigative reports about his government’s performance in KP. Instead of defending his position with logic, reason and facts, as he does with the foreign media, Mr. Khan reacted by bestowing on us the epithets of Pharoah and blackmailer.

In doing so he set aside verses of The Quran, Islamic injunctions and legal norms thereby reducing his stature as a leader, the spokesperson said. Unfortunately, this is a common trait in our society. When losing an argument it is easy to launch into abuse and invective. Once we have no evidence or when logic and reason fail us we try to intimidate our opponent by using foul language. We hurl all sorts of allegations at the other party. It is also common to call an opponent an agent of America, the CIA, Raw, the Jews and tax thieves. When President Nixonwas exposed by theWashington Post in the Watergate scandal, he did not resort to abuse, he used other means to try and stop their coverage.

Another incident that irked Mr. Khan was a re-tweet by one of our journalists about an alleged affair between a 21-yearold girl and a politician. No names were mentioned. Mr. Khan spoke of this re-tweet in one of his rallies. His intention was to rally his supporters against our Group but his words spread like wild fire. What was once drawing room gossip was now being discussed on the street. Mr. Khan’s supporters complained to us and protested. We explained that we were not involved and the re-tweet was the journalist’s own doing in his personal capacity. We also told them that a similar story was filed by one of our reporters but we did not print it because he did not have any substantive proof and Mr. Khan’s version was not included in his report.

They insisted that we take action against our journalists. We told them, in all sincerity, to pursue the matter in court. They did not do so. Instead they trained their guns against our Group. Another reporter was working on a story about rumours of Mr. Khan’s use of narcotics.He asked Mr. Khan whether he took any narcotics and if he was prepared to take a blood test to lay rumours about his addiction to rest. Mr. Khan called our senior editor and angrily protested against this intrusion in his private affairs. The senior editor asked him to control his temper and be more tolerant. He reminded Mr. Khan that being a public figure he should accept being under scrutiny. He was told that people were interested in his private life and have a right to know about their leaders. Mr. Khan remained adamant and angry.

The story was not published. The spokesperson said that Mr. Khan is also upset with the Group because it had exposed his boast of bringing 10 lakh people to the Dharna. Hewas unable to bring in the promised numbers and his sit-in has a fewthousand participants. For our assessments we relied on the number count given out by the government, ministry of interior and the police. However, in the interest of balance we also broadcast and printedMr. Khan’s inflated claims. This balanced and fair reporting was obviously not to Mr. Khans liking, the spokesperson added. Mr. Khan has boycotted our Group. Despite this we have not refrained from giving his activities space and time.

His supporters have not told him that this ploy of boycotting our Group is not new and has been used several times in the past by powerful sections of the power elite. They should have known that this achieves nothing. We have emerged from such boycotts stronger and more determined, by the Grace of Allah, the spokesperson said. If Mr. Khan and his party refuse to give us their version and walk away in a huff we can only pray for them and hope they see the light. If he continues to boycott and also complain about one sided reporting, he has only himself to blame. We have not censored anything he has said, no matter how hurtful and libelous.

The spokesperson wondered whether Mr. Khan had lost all sense of balance. He seems to vacillate between the extremes of love and hate. He sings the praises of a person when it suits him and then curses the same personwhen things do not go his way. He was once close to General Musharraf and even accepted dogs from him as a present. But when he was not made prime minister he became the sworn enemy of the general. His hatred for Altaf Hussain crossed all boundaries at one time and then suddenly all the animosity evaporated. When he attacked Mr. Zardari, he was vicious and relentless but as soon as he took on Mr. Nawaz Sharif, he said Mr. Zardari was a thousand times better than Mr. Sharif. When he was enamored of Mr. Sharif, he happily asked and accepted a plot from him but when his amour faded he wanted nothing less than his head. When he praised former CJ Iftikhar Choudhry, he never ran out of positive adjectives. When he fell out of love with the former CJ, he hurled the choicest abuses at him. Recently, in his reply to a legal notice served on himby the former CJ,Mr. Khan praised him to the skies and then in yet anothermanifestation of his erratic behaviour he withdrew his words and attacked him. Nobody knows when he will turn. His u-turns and about turns are now perfect material for parody, the spokesperson commented.

The spokesperson asked the people to be the judge. Our Group has a policy to keep the public abreast of all events and to provide them with all shades of opinion. This is the best way to serve an inclusive Pakistan. Unlike Mr. Khan we do not twist and turn in the wind and change to suit the occasion. We are not opportunists. He has asked the people to stop watching Geo, boycott our publications and has gone to the extent of asking our staff to abandon the Group. He has urged advertisers to stop giving us business. These are old tactics. We have been subjected to these ploys before.

Our consumers will determine what is good for them. Not Mr. Khan, said the spokesperson. We have toldMr. Khan on numerous occasions to take his complaints to the Press Council, Pemra or the courts. It is strange that he avoids us in court and has resorted to delaying tactics in cases we have filed against him. He continues to rave and rant in rallies and interviews against our Group without evidence or proof. We are printing our legal notice and his reply so that our readers can draw their own conclusions about what is right and who is wrong. They will understand that the person who grows hoarse calling for justice and insaaf wants a selective form of insaaf for himself.

The scales of justice in his hands are deliberately kept imbalanced, the spokesperson said. We have only one request, said the spokesperson. Let us pursue the matter in the courts. Mr. Khan, kindly, instruct your lawyers not to obstruct the flow of justice. Let the truth come out in the open. Mr. Khan seems to have lost confidence in the courts of Pakistan. We suggest that on his frequent trips to London, Mr. Khan should repeat his allegations, word by word, and have them printed in a UK newspaper or broadcast on a UK channel. He has always praised the systemof justice prevailing in England and knows that the courts there do not delay their judgments, especially in defamation cases. We will then take himto court in the UK and justice will be served expeditiously. Allah grants respect to whomsoever He pleases and disgraces whomsoever He pleases.

The spokes person said that Mr. Imran Khan accuses us of launching a campaign against the former additional secretary of the ElectionCommission of Pakistan. The spokesperson said that we only presented the facts including the photograph which shows Mr. Afzal Khan carrying a PTI flag in the recent dharna. There are more photographs available with us, proving his affiliation and partisanship with the PTI. Mr. Afzal Khan has admitted in his infamous interview that he had no proof at all to substantiate his sensational allegations. Besides, Mr. Afzal Khan in many interviews available with us has praised the entire election process both before and after the elections.

We merely showed clips of these claims of election transparency to show his hypocrisy. Inmore than one interviews, he claimed that the elections were the fairest ever. He also showered praises on former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Jang and Geo merely exposed Afzal Khan and his blatant lies. The spokesperson further stated that Mr. Khan’s cronies continue to carry out vicious propaganda against the group on social media using different names and hiding behind anonymity. The spokesperson appealed to the people of Pakistan to beware of these tactics. Mr. Khan calls the management of the Group a people without conscience.

If bringing forth unpalatable truths is evidence of our being conscienceless,we happily accept this title.Wewill continue to pursue the truth in the interest of Pakistan. Please keep in mind, the spokesman said, that GEO has been virtually shut down for almost four months. This has caused us losses in the billions. Yet we stand upright because of the trust invested in us by the people of this country. Had Mr. Khan been sincere he would have used the dharna to drawattention to our plight rather than attack us. Instead his government in KPK has stopped all advertising to our Group.

This spiteful behavior is a harbinger of the Naya Pakistan hewants to usher in, the spokesperson said. We have replied to his allegationsmany a timewhich you can read at: www.geo.tv/response.

By concluding we say with great emphasis that if anything we have said is wrong, Mr. Khan is free to challenge us and select a mutually acceptable arbitrator to resolve our differences.

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