ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Electronic and Press Media in Pakistan is enjoying full freedom since former President General Pervez Musharraf adopted the unprecedented policy of liberation of media, which no one ever dared to take on in the history of Pakistan. From state controlled couple of channels in 1999 to more than 60 channels in 2008, it was no other than a ruler in military uniform that always supported and encouraged the freedom of Expression. It seems ironical that the same media later started calling him Dictator and crossed all the limits of ethics in toppling him from office of President.
Like politicians of Pakistan, media quite often also behaves with so much incivility and irresponsibility, which not only serves the purpose of disinformation to the nation but also brings irrecoverable damage to national interests. For few years, centre of gravity of media and political parties is to bring down former President General Musharraf by a well orchestrated and well sponsored campaign against him. No news story attracts the attention of the reader, if it lacks some scandalous ‘information’ about former President. It is quite evident that ‘someone’ is still paying media to make false perceptions.
On 23rd May, Daily ‘The News’ published a story by Mr. Ansar Abbasi with the title, “Documents reveal power scandal in Chak Shahzad palaces”, which was simply based on malicious reporting and twisted facts. On TV channels and internet blogs, it appeared as big story and spread much quickly. This one sided report was followed by the ‘Breaking News’ that former President has vacated the army house. To add sensationalism in the news, it was said that Army has forced him to leave the army house. It was further added that General Musharraf has brought an apartment in London and is not likely to return back to the country.
It was too much humiliating for all those who support General Musharraf and honour him as an honest leader and the man who always work for the ideology of ‘Pakistan First’. It was also so much sad and shattering for former President himself that he appeared on different channels and dismissed all such speculations. He said LOUD and CLEAR that he would live permanently in Chak Chehzad and is not going to leave Pakistan at all. He added that since the construction of his house was completed in Chak Shehzad, he moved out of official residence. On one question, he confirmed the news about his apartment in London and told that his future schedule for lectures in different countries and commitments for interviews is already well set. He has bought a flat in London to serve as a staying station during his visits. On one question he denied any role in killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, saying he is ready to deal with the allegations levelled against him. He out rightly rejected any allegation regarding the rigging in the General Elections of 18th February 2008. He rejected the claim by PML-Q’s leadership that elections were engineered, calling this accusation totally baseless. When he was enquired about the allegation of acquiring electricity on cheaper rates, he rejected this false allegation, saying he abides law and never remains involved in such illegal act.
The next day spokesman for the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) clearified that new connection to the farmhouse is given as per the IESCO-Wapda rules without showing favour to any VIP. He said the contents of the news item were investigated and scrutinised, but no irregularity was found in provision of new connections to these farmhouses. There was no special concession in demand notices. (The News-24th May 2009)
This whole episode clearly depicts how irresponsibly the news reporters sometimes behave while making any story. Professional reporters always take versions of all the parties involved. Mr. Ansar Abbasi, unfortunately is too biased to practice this fundamental rule. We doubt he is probably paid to write such malicious reports, with half quoted and twisted facts. There is no freedom of media, without having feel of responsibility and sense of ownership.
The given is the rejoinder to the malicious report of ‘The News’ by Mr. Ansar Abbasi.
Written by Hammad Husain (Architect of Chak Shahzad farmhouse)
Mr Ansar Abbasi’s write-up in The News on 23rd May titled “Cheap electricity for Musharraf, ex-ISI chief and others” is a classic case of ‘hearsay’ journalism. Had the writer checked his facts, or at least taken the version of those he has callously accused, as a professional journalist is expected to do, his write-up would have been accurate. Mr Abbasi has claimed that “Gen Musharraf’s farmhouse was provided a free of cost transformer and other equipment in 2006”. This information is totally wrong. The correct fact is that a 25 kVA transformer was installed in 2003 right after Gen Musharraf bought the plot. On 25th Feb 09, as the house was nearing completion, an application was written to IESCO for upgradation of the transformer. A demand note was issued by IESCO on 11th March 09 titled “Extension of load and change of tariff”. A pay order of Rs 376,108 was deposited in the name of XEN(E), Islamabad-1 on 24th March and another pay order amounting to Rs. 102,000 was submitted as security deposit. Consequently, the old transformer was removed and a new 100 kVA transformer was installed. It is evident that instead of investigating the matter and verifying his facts, Mr Abbasi has depended solely on hearsay.
As far as the electricity meter is concerned, the published bill clearly shows the date it was installed (Dec 2003). The plot is in the P & V scheme of CDA where an agriculture meter D-2(1) is installed in routine (by default) till a house is built on the plot for permanent occupancy. The farmhouse was occupied a few days ago and the new meter with A-1(b) tariff (for residential use) is in the process of being installed this week in place of the old meter as per the above-mentioned demand note. The writer ought to know that exact electrical load is calculated and the purpose of the meter is clearly mentioned in all applications. IESCO installs meters after verifying the usage and loads and the customer does not have the option of choosing meters. (A-1(b) tariff is for heavy load and is more expensive than A-1(a) tariff that the writer mentioned in his story). Unfortunately, an unnecessary issue has been created out of a non-issue. After providing clarifications in today’s follow-up story, the writer still ‘stands’ by his story. It is easy to stand by a hearsay story, but it is difficult to stand by unverified and incorrect facts.
(Architect of Chak Shahzad farmhouse)