Grand plot against media

By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: Some elements in the federal government have hatched a grand conspiracy to malign and blackmail the Pakistani media and top of the list is the Jang Group of Newspapers and Geo TV. This grand conspiracy was noticed last Friday when a federal minister made allegations in the National Assembly and said that they have not paid huge amounts of sales tax. Most of the figures presented in the National Assembly were not correct.

The same afternoon, a top government minister told this scribe that “enough is enough” and now they can teach a lesson to Jang Group any time. He claimed that it was only President Asif Ali Zardari who never allowed any “action” against you people otherwise the action would have started long ago. The minister was angry with Ansar Abbasi and Dr Shahid Masood. He claimed that the government had collected a lot of material against these two. Another minister told this scribe the same evening that President Zardari had given a green signal to launch a campaign against some journalists of the Jang Group, including Shaheen Sehbai, Ansar Abbasi, Dr Shahid Masood, Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir and some others. He said that Dr Shahid might be implicated in some forgery case.

Another minister revealed that some people within the establishment suggested to the government to use the family of late Khalid Khawaja against Hamid Mir on the basis of a tape. A top official of the interior ministry rejected this idea and said that these types of concocted tapes cannot be proven in a court of law but the same night some pro-PPP websites launched a campaign against me. The next day, a section of the media belonging to a close friend of President Zardari published a one-sided story with baseless allegations. A newspaper and a TV channel tried to involve me in the murder of Khalid Khwaja.

I will take legal action against all those who started this campaign but one thing must be clear. It is a conspiracy not only against me. The ultimate goal is to silence the voice of Pakistani media on certain issues. Was it a coincidence that PPP Secretary Information Fauzia Wahab addressed a press conference on Saturday against Ansar Abbasi and the next day a full-fledged campaign was launched against me in a section of the media belonging to Governor Punjab?

Many observers have noticed the timing of the campaign against the media men. Khalid Khwaja was assassinated at least two weeks ago but no tape about his murder surfaced anywhere. Fauzia Wahab had exchanged hot words with Ansar Abbasi many times in different talk shows but she issued him a notice only when some important political and legal events are going to take place in coming few weeks. The main objective is very clear. The PPP leadership wants to give a message to the whole media that if they do not behave, then this government will treat them like Pervez Musharraf did.

For some time, the government has been taking many actions to financially damage the Geo-Jang Group because this Group has refused to toe the official line. Similar tactics were used by the previous regime of dictator Musharraf. The democratic government was supposed to tolerate press freedom but this could not happen.


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