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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Shoaib Bhutta: Geo TV bribes judiciary to suppress the voice of an independent journalist

By Abdul Nishapuri

Shoaib Bhutta is the name of a courageous journalist who tried to expose the evil designs of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and his commerical empire known as Geo TV / Jang Group. He was the one who revealed a few weeks ago that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has demanded 400 crore rupees from President Zardari in order to stop the anti-democracy propaganda by Jang and Geo TV.

Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad, Muhammad Tanvir Mir, has been bribed ten million rupees (one crore) by Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to issue an arrest warrnat of a serving journalist. Independent journalists have protested against this act of Geo TV/Jang group / Judiciary as an attack on freedom of press.

Here is a history of Shoaib Bhutta:

Pakistan media freedom report 2002
On 5 August, Shoaib Bhutta, journalist with the weekly Capital, was severely beaten by armed individuals in a street of Faisalabad (centre of the country). The attackers were wearing security guard uniforms. Shoaib Bhutta suffered a broken leg. He was one of the rare journalists who had ignored the governmental directive inciting journalists to actively cover the trial of Asif Ali Zardari, husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Source

Reporters wihtout Borders: 2008 Report on Pakistan
Serious police brutality
Brutality and raids against the media also accompanied the imposition of emergency rule [of General Musharraf in 2007]. The secret services also went after journalists, and even more aggressively. Eight agents arrested Shoaib Bhutta, editor of the Urdu-language Daily Tulou at his office in Islamabad in November 2007. In two days of questioning, during which he was kept chained up and deprived of sleep, they quizzed him about why he was critical of the authorities. Source

Newspaper editor released
By Our Staff Reporter (Dawn, November 20, 2007)

ISLAMABAD, Nov 19: An Urdu newspaper editor, who was picked up by the personnel of law enforcement agencies at the weekend, was released here on Monday evening.

Shoaib Bhutta, the editor of Daily Tulou, was handed over to a group of journalists some 500 meters away from the Cantonment police station at around 6:30pm.

Mr Bhutta was picked up by a group of eight people believed to be personnel of a security agency from his office last Saturday night.

Mr Bhutta, when contacted, said he was picked up from his office, blindfolded and taken to an unidentified place where he was kept in the same condition till Monday morning.

During the period he was not allowed to sleep and was fettered too.

The personnel informed him that he was detained allegedly on the orders of the Punjab chief minister and the inspector general of police.

The personnel also asked him why he wrote against the president and the chief minister, but they did not produce any material in this regard on his request.

The captors also inquired about people who assist the journalists in their ongoing movement, he added.

Mr Bhutta quoted the personnel as saying that their high-ups directed them to arrest him, besides checking his record.

Sohail Iqbal, the chief editor of Online news agency, told Dawn that the president of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Press Club Mushtaq Minhas asked him to contact the station house officer of the Cantonment police station and get the editor released.

He said that the SHO told him that Mr Bhutta was handed over to him on Sunday night. This was a very high-level matter and Deputy Inspector General of Police Rawalpindi himself supervised it, Mr Iqbal quoted the SHO as saying.

“He (Mr Bhutta) was released as he was cleared during investigation,” the SHO told Mr Iqbal.

Meanwhile, a group of five personnel wearing Punjab Constabulary uniform stormed the office of Daily Tulou located at G-7/1 Monday morning and seized all the office record and computer.

They also searched the office from top to bottom. However, the record and computer were also handed over to the journalists in the evening. Source

Court [bribed by Geo TV] issues arrest warrant for Bhutta
Thursday, November 26, 2009 (The News)

ISLAMABAD: Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad, Muhammad Tanvir Mir, has issued an arrest warrant for Muhammad Shoaib Bhutta, publisher of a daily in Islamabad.

The judge summoned him on December 4 to ensure his presence in the court. The court issued an arrest warrant for Bhutta on the complaint of Abdul Aziz Mohmand, resident editor the Jang, The News and Geo editorial management, and on the basis of arguments and evidence presented before the court.

Abdul Aziz Mohmand in his application stated that in the best national interests, the Jang Group had played a leading role in the movement for an independent judiciary and rightly represented the masses. Besides, the Jang Group and Geo TV raised the issues of governance and corruption among the masses, due to which the group has to face serious challenges, he added.

He stated that the said person published defamatory, unfounded, false and baseless reports and financial charges in his newspaper against the Jang Group to damage its popularity and reputation among the masses.

The daily alleged that the head of the Jang Group editorial had sent a message to important personalities of the government that if they wanted end to one-sided campaign against them and personnel of the judiciary in the group newspapers, editorials and electronic media, they have to accept their demands. After the government refusal the group editorial head gave go-ahead to his workers and said that if the government is facing difficulties, then it should cut advertisements of other newspapers and electronic media to fulfil their shortage.

Abdul Aziz Mohmand maintained that the said publisher republished such baseless materials twice, and damaged the reputation of the group and tried to weaken its commitment.

The petitioner said that besides publishing baseless news against Geo TV, Daily Jang and The News the publisher Malik Shoaib Bhutta also printed posters and panaflex banners with logos of Geo TV, Jang and The News. The posters contained extremely contemptuous sentences against the Jang Group of Newspapers and Geo TV. When the workers of the Jang and well-wisher readers removed those banners and posters after the city administration failed to do so despite repeated complaints, the said publisher reported the next day, “the Jang Group could not tolerate few banners and posters against it”.

The same person also levelled baseless allegations against Jang Group during a talkshow on official TV channel. The petitioner requested the police to register an FIR against the accused, but the police neither responded positively nor registered an FIR.

Abdul Aziz Mohmand pleaded in his petition that this act was crime under section 499, 5000, 501, 502 and 502A of the Pakistan Penal Code. Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Tanvir Mir accepted the petition for regular hearing on the basis of arguments and evidences and said it seemed that Mohammad Shoaib Bhutta had intentionally committed defamation, hence his arrest warrant were being issued. The court adjourned the hearing till December 4, 2009 and ordered to appear before the court. Source


Saad said...

I would really like to see how the concerned judges concluded that Mr Bhutta committed defamation. The following are exceptions to the defamation section which would virtually absolve all media persons of any possible action. Without which I'm sure the government could have on no less then thousand instances sued Jang group, eg when there was this headline regarding some deal that barred government action on Musharraf, later all journalists present denied any such remarks being made.

First Exception - Imputation of truth which public good requires to be made or published: It is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or published. Whether or not it is for the public good is a question off act.

Second Exception - On Public conduct of public servants: It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of a public servant in the discharge of his public functions, or respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further.

Third Exception - Conduct of any person touching any public question: It is not defamation to express in good faith any opinion whatever respecting the conduct of any person touching any public question, and. respecting his character, so far as his character appears in that conduct, and no further

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