Three journalists indicted in defamation case
KARACHI: The district and session court of Additional District and Session Judge, Ghulam Mustafa Memon, on Thursday indicted three journalists in a defamation case filed by a leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) under the controversial Pakistani Criminal Defamation Law. The defamation suit was filed in 2005 by Anwar Alam of MQM, a partner of ruling coalition, against the Editor of The STAR Kamal Majidullah, Chief correspondent of The STAR Syed Saleem Shahzad and crime reporter Ralph D’ Cruz. The STAR was the oldest English language evening daily of the prestigious Dawn Group of Newspapers. The STAR seized its circulation on December 2, 2006. Though there is no official words on the closure of the 53-year old publication but pressures by the ruling alliance partner is said to be the one reason. All three journalists are on pre-arrest bail and might face imprisonment under the law.
The STAR ran a title story on the front page last year about the linkages between underworld mafia king pin, deceased, Shoiab Khan and the members of Muttahida Quami Movement. Shoiab Khan was also Front Man Dawood Ibrahim, a wanted criminal by US State department. International media watch organizations like Committee for Protection of Journalists observed the defamation Act LVI2002 as a bid to prevent Pakistani journalists writing the truth especially in the perspective of post 09/11 events.” General Musharraf also grew increasingly agitated by local and international reporting on alleged terrorist activities inside the country, deeming such coverage “antistate. ” A Worldwide Survey report by the Committee to Protect Journalists observed. “It is principle stand taken by International Federation of Journalist as well by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist that everybody has a right to file cases for defamation and can claim damages but it should be of civil nature.
We are against criminal defamation laws and consider it against Press. Freedom” commented central Secretary General of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist, Mazhar Abbas. The Secretary general of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Mr Iqbal Haider also condemned the case and termed it unfair. “It is unfair on part of any body to file criminal cases against working journalists. These sorts of cases always harm the initiative to report truth. If somebody has reservations on the reportage, a civil remedy under the law is the most appropriate one under which any aggrieved party can get justice through claiming damages,” “In addition, if a reporting exposes kidnappers, extortionists and killers it is service to the society and it should be encouraged and preventing such a reportage through criminal court proceedings is malafide.” Mr Iqbal Haider maintained.
Source: The News