Dr Shahid Masood enacted a fake ban drama to improve the falling ratings of Meray Mutabiq

Here is an official statement by a government spokesperson, which is followed by an analysis of Dr Shahid Masood’s journalism by Mazhar Abbas, ex-secretary general of PFUJ. Dr Shahid Masood, it may be noted is a President of the Pakistani Taliban Union of Journalists (PTUJ) and an active member of Hizb ut-Tahrir along with his other cronies Ansar Abbasi and Muhammad Saleh Zaafir (all of them belong to The News/Geo TV.)

Govt denies closing Geo’s ‘Meray Mutabiq’
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 (The News)

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman for the government on Tuesday refuted the allegation about closing down ‘Meray Mutabiq’ programme of the Geo TV.

In an official press release, the spokesman said the government had neither chalked out a plan to close down the programme for its transmission from the UAE nor had made any request to the authorities in this regard. Allegations on this account were baseless, contrary to facts and uncalled for, he added.

The spokesman said, “The government firmly believes in the free media and the sensible information consumers of Pakistan had acknowledged this fact.” However, a section of anchorpersons — in a bid to vent their own venom — seemed to have crossed all limits and norms of professional civility and decency by mocking and ridiculing holders of high public offices, the spokesman said.

He said the Geo management editorially disclaimed the programme as the management stated at the beginning of the programme that “it had nothing to do with the contents or opinions expressed there in.” Amazingly, he added, “This is the only current affairs programme which carries a disclaimer by its own management.”

He claimed that according to the ranking of some recent surveys, this programme had become extremely unpopular because of its whimsical and eccentric presentation. To keep a competitive pace with such programs of other TV channels, the anchor had enacted a fake drama to remain in the news, the spokesman said. He said instead of viewing this highly opinionated, motivated and assumptive programme, people had switched over to talk shows on other channels which remained within confines of civility despite being critical of the government and its policies. He said the anchorperson in question resorted to hyperbole, overstatement and exaggeration, going beyond all reasonable limits in this respect.

Letter of the ex-Secretary General of PFUJ about Dr Shahid Masood

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 (The News)

Dr Masood’s language and views, at times, violate the generally accepted norms of journalism, but the answer is not to gag the press like General (r) Pervez Musharraf did.

Shahid Masood has always been an emotional person. I know him since he was in Sindh Medical College. He used to bring press releases of the Peoples Doctors Forum, PPP’s medical wing, while I was working in an evening newspaper in Karachi. I met him first during a hunger strike by young medical doctors outside Karachi Press Club. He was a great admirer of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. Later, I came to know that he went to London and for sometime also worked at the Pakistan Peoples Party Secretariat. During his stay in London, he started writing for an Urdu evening newspaper in Karachi before joining ARY. I may be mistaken, but he too was a ‘jiyala’. [AN’s note: PTUJ spokesperson Dr Shahid Masood and the Taliban spokesperson in Swat Muslim Khan are the examples of those people who used to be PPP workers but then became a tool in the hands of the establishment against the nation and democracy. Iblees too had a great past once upon a time.]

When he joined the channel, the electronic media was in its infancy but his programme “Views on News” started getting a large viewership. The Iraq war gave him the real boost. Dr Masood’s language skills and oratory made him the most popular anchor in the early years of the electronic media in Pakistan. At the same time many started believing that his views had tilted from left to centre, and afterwards from centre to right. During this period he hardly ever cared about the established journalistic norms, but within years he stole the show and became the head of that news channel.

Later, he joined Geo and did a successful stint there. Also Geo TV never ‘owned’ his programme, meaning that he was free to speak his mind and the channel saved itself from any possible legal battle. I never liked his joining the state-controlled media organisation and he suffered a credibility loss when he became its managing director – a post he should have never accepted. He remained close to President Asif Ali Zardari for sometime and would not have left the job had Sherry Rehman not been the information minister. Through Meray Mutabiq-II, he made a comeback and to his luck President Zardari’s poor decision of not restoring the deposed judges gave a real boost to his programme’s ratings.

As far as life threats to Dr Shahid Masood are concerned I think he should return to Pakistan and resume his programme from here. There are journalists in Pakistan who have bravely faced life threats. My only question, however, is that why recently Dr Masood and Shaheen Sehbai went to meet Asif Zardari as reported by Hamid Mir. All I want to say to Dr Masood is that “Life and death are in the hands of God. Let’s face it, Doctor sahib.”

Mazhar Abbas
Ex-secretary general, PFUJ
Source: The News.



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