PTI furious over Geo’s legal notice to Imran Khan
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday angrily reacted to the legal notice served to its chairman, Imran Khan, by Jang/Geo media group and objected against the “the gross abuse Imran Khan is being subjected to in the name of political humour on Geo”.
According to a statement of the party, PTI Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari said that the PTI Central Office, Islamabad, had received a fax copy of a defamation legal notice against Chairman Imran Khan on October 29 – a day after part one of his interview was aired by ARY television, on behalf of the registered companies that own Jang/Geo Group. Inter alia, the notice had demanded of the PTI chairman that he stop the broadcast of his interview of October 28 on ARY channel – as “the language and the conclusive tone” the chairman allegedly used in the interview “is highly defamatory and unacceptable”.
Mazari made it clear that Chairman Imran Khan stood by every word of what he said in his interview with Mubashar Lucman for ARY television channel. She said Imran had stated categorically that any allegations regarding any media house relating to money coming from abroad and allegedly creating links with foreign intelligence agencies must be properly investigated as “it was a very serious matter”. Imran reiterated that regardless of which media house was alleged to be involved in any such activity an investigation was in order. “Yes the chairman PTI’s tone was resolute in demanding such an inquiry rather than coming to a conclusion on his own. It is bizarre to accuse a political leader or any citizen of defamation merely because they demand an inquiry into what are serious allegations involving the security of the country,” Mazari said.
She asked what was defamatory in demanding an inquiry into what is clearly a serious matter in order to ascertain the truth/veracity or otherwise of the allegations. “Since Chairman Khan did not take the name of any media house when demanding an inquiry, the defamatory note itself can be subject to a defamatory legal notice to the media house sending it. It is not without irony that the legal notice also puts a strong defence on behalf of the Hindustan Times!” she exclaimed.
The legal notice, she noted, also takes issue with Imran for questioning the manner in which rights for broadcasting a Pakistan cricket series were obtained by Geo. Again, it seems a political leader cannot even ask a question about how such rights were distributed and why PTV chose to stay out of the bidding. According to Mazari, this is truly absurd as demands for transparency are part of the democratic process and such questions are being raised in parliament also. “As parliamentary leader of the second largest political party in the country, Imran Khan has every right to seek an explanation of how contracts and bids are decided by the government. Where does defamation come in?” Mazari queried.
The PTI information secretary stated that the legal notice seems to reflect a guilty mindset where muzzling of free speech is being asserted and there is clear character assassination of the anchor who conducted the interview. “Those who demand freedom of expression/speech for themselves clearly cannot stomach it for others. The guilt and arrogance of Geo/Jang group is absurd especially when they query Khan giving an interview to Lucman. Who are they do decide who is fit to be given an interview?” Mazari asked. She pointed out that the PTI chairman had shown an exceptional level of tolerance to criticism and personalised attacks against him not only on Geo channel but also in the Jang newspaper – where a weekly column is being used to malign him with a tirade of unsubstantiated allegations. In a letter to Mir Shakeelur Rahman, dated October 15, Mazari had protested “the gross abuse that PTI Chairman Imran Khan is being subjected to in the name of political humour on Geo” to the point of being “ unacceptable in terms of insinuations and ridicule.”
Despite all this, Mazari asserted that the PTI had chosen not to take legal action against Geo/Jang group so far. “However, after this absurd and almost dictatorial defamation legal notice served on the chairman, PTI will re-examine all its options,” she said. Mazari stated categorically that the PTI chairman stands by all his comments in the interview to Lucman and PTI stands firmly behind its chairman and the position he has taken which reflects the party’s consensual sense. “We cannot be bullied into compromising on our democratic right of freedom of speech; nor can we be cowed down into keeping quiet when questions are raised that impact the country’s wellbeing and security,” Mazari added.