Although we disagree with the biased and pro-Taliban reporting of Mr. Ansar Abbasi, having come to know that Mr. Abbasi has received threats by some vested interests, we support Mr. Shaheen Sahbai’s following appeal to the Government of Pakistan to provide official protection to Mr. Ansar Abbasi.
Group Editor writes to govt
Thursday, December 25, 2008
News Desk (The News)
KARACHI: On behalf of The News and the Jang Group of Publications, Group Editor of The News Shaheen Sehbai on Wednesday strongly urged the government to take immediate note of the death threats and a campaign of vilification launched by some vested interests and sections of the government against Ansar Abbasi, Editor Investigations of The News, for publishing stories exposing important persons and institutions.
In a letter sent to Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman, copies of which were sent to the president, the prime minister, the chief of Army staff, the NA speaker and the chairman Senate, heads of intelligence agencies, all governors and chief ministers and international media watchdog bodies, Sehbai asked the government to provide protection to Abbasi and end the harassment campaign in which some cabinet ministers and supporters of the government had also become actively involved.
Ansar Abbasi had recently written a number of stories including the scam of military lands given to the JUI-F, the case of Farah Hameed Dogar and the housing project which involved Rs 60 billion, which embarrassed the government and other institutions, including the Supreme Court.
[Ironically, it may be noted that the JUI-F represents the Deobandi sect in Pakistan. The majority of the Taliban, the favourites of Ansar Abbasi, belong to the same sect. Mir kia sadah hain beemar huay jis kay aivaz……]
Defending the media
For some time now, this paper in general and its editor in particular have been under attack by extremist elements in society and also misplaced ones within the media. This fact is commonly known at home and abroad. The foreign media has reported on this matter but not a single editorial of substance has been written in any media to defend us or criticise those who target and attack us unfairly. This tells us something about the state of our “free” media and the wide spaces inhabited by green-eyed monsters or fierce ideologues or extremist religious nationalists who cannot stomach a different point of view. Never mind. One should do unto others as one would have others do unto one.
A case in point is that of Ansar Abbasi of The News. He says he is facing death threats after bringing to light a number of scandals of misconduct among the powerful elite of the country. Regardless of one’s disagreement or not with the opinion and approach adopted by Mr Abbasi to project his point of view on various issues, we in the media should take his fear at face value and rise to his defence. Therefore we stand by Mr Abbasi’s right to uncover misdemeanour and corruption and ask the government to protect him against all threats to his life. There are decent ways of countering a newspaper story that hurts. Denials and explanations can be issued and, in the last resort, the offending journalist can be taken to court. But threats and blackmail, whether by government, political parties or other non-state actors, against Mr Ansar Abbasi or anyone else cannot be tolerated. (Daily Times, 26 Dec 2008)
How real is the threat to Ansar Abbasi? Is Ansar Abbasi trying to gain cheap popularity by creating such stunts? Is he suffering from an identity disorder or some kind of schizophrenia?
Here is what Abbas Ather writes in his column in Express on 26 Dec 2008: