Monday, September 01, 2014


Gandhara

Payback Time For Pakistani Media

Junior government minister Sheikh Waqas Akram takes journalists to task on Pakistan's Geo TV.
Junior government minister Sheikh Waqas Akram takes journalists to task on Pakistan's Geo TV.
Just a week ago, politicians were the whipping boys of Pakistani television, ridiculed on sitcoms, and the targets of pointed questions on news talk shows.

Now the worm has turned, and it is Pakistan's media that are feeling the heat.

The role reversal came after leaked footage showed the hosts of a popular Dunya TV news program appearing to be going over questions with a high-profile guest during a commercial break.

WATCH: A controversial "planted interview" is arranged on Pakistan's Dunya TV (in Urdu):


The video, from a program aired on June 13, shows hosts Mubashir Luqman and Meher Bokhari guiding the answers of billionaire businessman Malik Riaz Hussain.

"Why don't you start talking about it yourself, or else it will look like a planted [interview], which it is," Bokhari is seen telling Hussain in Urdu.

The interview came after Hussain had gone public with allegations of corruption against Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The claims resulted in a Supreme Court order for a government investigation and, when Hussain repeated them during the interview, it rekindled the media firestorm. But it was nothing compared to the field day politicians are having now.

Raising The Heat

Sheikh Waqas Akram, a junior government minister, maintains that the leaked video exposed the true face of corruption -- among journalists.

"Until now politicians were the only people accused of having double standards," he says. "But this video shows that there are people among the TV anchors who can be accused of the same. On the one hand they were defending the chief justice over the past few days, but on the other they conducted an interview to facilitate his opponents. This means that [they] are playing both sides."

Nadeem Afzal Gondal, an outspoken lawmaker with the ruling Pakistan People's Party, raised the heat even more when he appeared on a popular late-night news show this week.

"I am very happy to see what is happening," he said. "Truly, I am saying to God, 'may it happen more often', so that [journalists] can be exposed. The politicians can never risk questioning you about your corruption. Can we tell you that some among you were bribed with BMW cars or with plots of lands or with cash and other shadowy deals?"

Stay tuned...

-- Abubakar Siddique
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About Gandhara

Gandhara is a blog dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan written by RFE/RL journalists from Radio Mashaal (Pakistan), Radio Azadi (Afghanistan), our Central Newsroom, and other services. Here, our people on the ground will provide context, analysis, and some opinions on news from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Send comments or questions to gandhara [at] rferl.org.