TV channel, host and guest being sued in Pakistan, US & UK -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

TV channel, host and guest being sued in Pakistan, US & UK

ISLAMABAD: Editors and senior journalists of daily ‘The News’ and the Jang Group of Publications have decided to sue the Pakistan and Dubai-based TV channel, ARY One World, in Pakistani, UK, Canadian and US courts, for airing baseless and false allegations against them, which amounted to blatant and malicious libel and defamation before TV viewers of ARY inside Pakistan and abroad.

Editor Investigations of The News Ansar Abbasi has already served two legal notices on ARY in Pakistan, through his lawyer, while similar notices are being prepared to be served on ARY, Dish Network the US satellite company which carries ARY programmes, and other cable companies in the US, Canada (Roger cable) and the UK, which helped ARY TV spread these lies and baseless allegations.

Ansar Abbasi has served the legal notices on Zahid Bashir, former press secretary to the prime minister; Dr Danish, host of ARY One World; and M/s ARY Communications (Pvt) Ltd through his counsel, demanding immediate public apology, failing which legal proceedings against them would be instituted in competent courts for the recovery of damages of Rs500 million in Pakistan and other amounts to be determined for the US and the UK.

In addition, a criminal case under section 499 and 500 of Pakistan Penal Code, read with the provisions of the Defamation Ordinance 2002, would also be initiated.

The notice pointed out that the ARY talk show, “Sawal Ya Hai Kai”, in which Mr Bashir was invited as a guest, was completely dedicated and devoted to defame Mr Abbasi aided and abetted by the host and the TV channel. With the permission, instigation and incitement of the host, the guest Mr Zahid Bashir levelled many false and frivolous allegations just to settle his own score of malicious intent and ulterior motives against Mr Abbasi.

The following is the text of the first legal notice:

“1.Mr Zahid Bashir

C/o M/s ARY Communications (Pvt) Ltd,

6th Floor, Madina City Mall,

Abdullah Haroon Road, Saddar, Karachi

2. Dr Danish,

Host TV channel ARY One World,

M/s ARY Communications (Pvt) Ltd,

6th Floor, Madina City Mall,

Abdullah Haroon Road, Saddar, Karachi

3.M/s ARY Communications (Pvt) Ltd,

through its Chief Executive Officer/producer

6th Floor, Madina City Mall,

Abdullah Haroon Road, Saddar, Karachi

Legal Notice

Dear Sir,

I have been instructed by my client Mr Ansar Ahmed Abbasi, Editor Investigations, “The News International”, Islamabad, Jang Group of Newspapers/Companies to address you this legal notice as under:-

1.My client Mr Ansar Ahmed Abbasi had contributed an Investigative Report, which was published in the newspapers “The News International” and “Jang”. The news item was related to the matter of reassessment of examination papers of Miss Farah Hameed Dogar, daughter of Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan. The news item was contributed in the public interest without any malicious intention or ulterior motives of my client and in the same spirit, the news item was published in the Jang Group of newspapers. The matter is now sub-judice at different forums and there is no further need to add any emphasis that according to my client, the news item was perfectly correct and based on reality without any shadow of doubt.

2. You Mr Zahid Bashir attended a talk show hosted by Mr Danish and produced/broadcasted by a TV Channel ARY One World. The title of talk show was “Sawal Ya Hai Kai” and it was aired on 29th December 2008 at about 11.05 P.M. If the crux of whole program is taken into consideration, it is proved that the whole program was completely dedicated and devoted to defame my client only with the aid and abetment of the host and TV channel. With the permission, instigation and incitement of the host, the guest Mr Zahid Bashir has levelled many false and frivolous allegations and all such allegations have been levelled just to settle his own score of malicious intent and ulterior motives against my client. To put the record straight, my client wants to make categorical statement that he never talked to Mr Zahid but it was he who talked to my client twice. On one occasion when you, Mr Zahid contacted him to discuss and complained in relation to a news column contributed by my client in daily Jang in which he had reflected the controversy associated with your case of induction in Grade 21. Secondly, you Mr Zahid, again contacted my client on his mobile phone on 21st November 2008 from P.M house/Secretariat at around 8.00 P.M to influence not to contribute a story regarding the issue of Miss Farah Hameed Dogar’s reassessment of examination papers/sheets. You without any verification and knowledge, simply said that the information available with my client was wrong and nothing was done unlawful. My client challenged you that if the information is wrong, he would not file the story, my client further asked you to recheck the facts of the case. You immediately offered my client to rush to the PM House so that he can accompany you to the abode of Honourable Chief Justice. My client told you to first ask the consent of Honourable Chief Justice for meeting, after some time you again called my client and said that the meeting is set for 9.00 P.M on the same date. It was not my client who shown any desire to visit the house of Chief Justice under the garb or guise of his any personal work for which you allegedly took the time and brought him there. My client strongly stands by his story that whatever he reported the sequence of discussion took place in the said meeting is perfectly correct without any doubt. So what ever distortion of facts made by you in the talk show with self manipulation and exaggeration is totally false and malicious and since you have personal grudge, enmity and vendetta against my client as you were removed by PM from the office of press secretary because of the same reason, therefore, you are just searching different venues and occasions to malign my client by hook and crook. It is also false that my client has ever sent you any message through his mobile phone, the day or even after your removal from the post of Press Secretary to the Prime Minster. All allegations levelled by you against my client are false and without any justification and substance, strong burden lies upon you to prove the same in the court whenever you will be summoned to answer the claim both in civil suit for recovery of damages and criminal complaint under Section 499 and 500 of Pakistan Penal Code read with Defamation Ordinance 2002.

3.Besides above, you Zahid Bashir with the active participation and blessings of the host, also read a false, libellous and defamatory letter in the same program, which was allegedly sent by one Ashraf Ansari to FBR with the subject “Tax evasion by Ansar Ahmed Abbasi Journalist”. Let this be clarified first that in the talk show, you have read the letter so primarily, you are responsible to face the consequences as without having or giving any proof, you read the highly libellous and defamatory letter to tarnish and disparage the image, reputation and fair name of my client. My client has reported to the police to investigate the alleged author including all persons who are instrumental and or with whom active connivance such letter was given and read by you. You also tried to defame the father of my client. Please note, the father of my client was a known businessman of Muree therefore, to cast aspersion that he was labour is not correct. According to the alleged letter, you have informed the viewers that my client has the properties having worth of Rs.444 millions. The figures and details of properties allegedly owned or attributed to my client are false and incorrect. I am sure that in your own prudence and wisdom, the allegations are false but in order to exploit the situation with sole aim of defaming my client with personal vendetta, you have read the letter with full support of host and TV channel. The nonsense of allegations can easily be judged that the alleged person without disclosing his any association or relation or experience with my client, quoting the wardrobe inventories also that my client has 150 foreign suits, diamonds and precious watches etc. My client has only one office maintain car which is not invisible and people can see easily not only his dressing but his also living standard/style, who according to the allegation of Mr Zahid Bashir is the owner of 444 millions. My client has a very attractive and gracious offer for you, the host and the TV channel to help him in searching his 444 millions wealth so that he may reward and gratis you a major portion of his alleged hidden wealth/treasure and enjoy the remaining life with comfort without any pain of bread and butter for his livelihood. The tone of alleged letter is clear to understand that this was done with blessings of many instrumental and if there was any reality or substance in such type of nonsense letters, then FBR must have taken proper action which is the most relevant and competent Authority.

4. You Mr Danish, the host of the show, has also conducted the program with sheer bias and professional jealousy. It was your responsibility that while welcoming Mr Zahid to level frivolous allegations and devoting much time to exploit a false letter and other allegations in the talk show, you took no pain to take version of my client so that the same could be accommodated and aired in the same talk show as a counter version. In past also, you aired a libellous program from another TV Channel against the program “Meray Mutabiq” hosted by Dr Shahid Masood from GEO TV and a legal notice was also served upon you and that TV channel by Dr Shahid Masood. Even you did not stop Mr Zahid that he was levelling false allegations against the person in his absence, which was against the ethics and norms of the talk show and journalism. Even you did not ask your guest to place proofs of such allegations in the program whereby the viewers of the show could understand whether the allegations are correct or false.

You have miserably failed to fulfil and perform an honest, impartial and neutral role of an anchor, therefore you added and abetted the defamatory allegations and allowed to use your platform for tarnishing and disparaging the good name and reputation of my client hence you and TV Channel both are equally responsible and proved to be an active instrument for running/conspiring a vilification campaign against my client.

5.The management, Chief Executive Officer, producers and all directors of the M/s. ARY Communications (Pvt) Ltd are also responsible who aired the libellous and defamatory program against my client without any verification and allowing an opportunity to my client to place his point of view in defence of allegations. The Host and TV channel completely acted with bias and aired totally one sided version fabricated, concocted and hatched by Mr Zahid Bashir based on his own whims. Many other allegations of blackmailing, corruption and false reporting were also aired against my client without any cogent and plausible reasons or justification. All such allegations have seriously and severely damaged the good name, reputation and goodwill of my client.

In view of the above, you are called upon through the medium of this legal notice to immediately withdraw all false allegations publicly and tender unconditional apology to my client in the same program within ten days and further be desist and refrained from raising false aspersions against my client, failing which, my clients shall be constrained to institute and initiate legal proceedings against you in the competent court of law for the recovery of damages of Rs.500 million with other ancillary and incidental relief. This will be without prejudice to lodge criminal case also against you people under Section 499 and 500 of Pakistan Penal Code read with the provisions of Defamation Ordinance 2002.

Yours truly,

Muhammad Ali Mazhar

Advocate Supreme Court

The text of the second notice, served

on same respondents, is as under:

Legal Notice

Dear Sir,

I have been instructed by my client Mr Ansar Ahmad Abbasi, Editor Investigations, “The News International”, Islamabad, Jang Group of Newspapers/Companies to address you this second legal notice as under:-

1.On 31st December, 2008, a legal notice was served upon you under instructions of my client in connection with the airing of a defamatory talk show titled “Sawal Ya Hai” in which Mr Zahid Bashir was the guest, the host was Mr Danish and the program was produced and broadcasted by ARY One World. The program was aired on 29th December 2008 at about 11.05 P.M. My client has shown grave concern that the same program has been aired as repeat telecast by you on 31st December 2008 around 8.00 PM in the prime time of the same TV Channel. Please note, every fresh airing and every repeat airing of the said libellous program will give fresh cause of action to my client against you and the repeat telecast of the program has severely aggravated the libel committed by you. A copy of legal notice impugning the original telecast is attached herewith and the contents of the same are reiterated.

2.My client has come to know that you people have aired both the original telecast and repeat telecast on International beam of your TV Channel also and the defamatory and libellous program has been viewed in many other territories/countries outside Pakistan including UK and USA, therefore, you people have committed libel not only in Pakistan, but in UK and USA also, including all other jurisdiction and territories which are covered under the footprint of your TV Channel. Keeping in view the aggravated situation, my client has legitimate right to sue you people not only in Pakistan but in all other jurisdiction/territories where the offending program has been viewed, hence, my client has decided to lodge legal proceedings against you in UK and USA territories in addition to the remedies available in Pakistan.

In view of the above, you are called upon again through the medium of this second legal notice to immediately withdraw all false allegations publicly and tender unconditional apology to my client in the same program and further be desist and refrained from raising false aspersions against my client. Since the airing of repeat telecast of the same libellous program has further defamed and tarnished the image of my client both locally and internationally and aggravated the situation, therefore, without prejudice to the claim of damages lodged in the earlier legal notice served on 31st December 2008, you people are further called upon to pay the damages of Rs.500 million to my client within ten days, failing which, my client shall be justified to institute suit for recovery of damages not only in Pakistan, but UK/USA also and will also lodge criminal proceedings against you in the competent court of law under Section 499 and 500 of Pakistan Penal Code read with the provisions of Defamation Ordinance 2002.

Yours truly,

Muhammad Ali Mazhar

Advocate Supreme Court.

Source: The News

Date:1/2/2009