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Shiffa Yousafzai harassment case: IHC directs FIA to conduct inquiry against Asad Ali Toor

Justice Athar Minallah, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court has directed Federal Investigation Agency, FIA, to hold inquiry against Asad Ali Toor, a self-declared journalist, who had maligned a prominent anchorperson Shiffa Yousafzai.

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Justice Athar Minallah, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court (IHC), has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hold inquiry against Asad Ali Toor, a self-declared journalist, notorious for making vicious personal attacks on other journalists – especially women jouranlists. He had done series of Youtube videos against a prominent anchorperson Shiffa Yousafzai, host of Hum News Morning Show.

Ms. Yousafzai, while talking to reporters outside Islamabad High Court explained that many had warned her that “Pakistan has no law” and that women in a male dominated world must bear all nonsense and trash that stupid men keep saying. But she has decided to come to court, to take a stand against this garbage not only for herself but for all women of Pakistan. She said she is fighting a case for the women of Pakistan who work outside homes and face continuous abuse. “Nobody has the right to question the character of a woman,” she said.

But she also added that most men in Pakistan respect their mothers, sisters, wives and women in general and perhaps more than other parts of the world. But there are dirty eggs like “Asad Toor” who bring bad name to the whole country and “we have to fight them”. Their conduct is not acceptable, she added.

On 29th March, this year Ms. Yousafzai had filed an application against Mr. Toor, for harassment and intimidation of a working woman, with the Cybercrime Wing of FIA. Those who are familiar with her application tell that it has been a very detailed and thorough  application with details of offensive words, phrases and time lines. FIA, that usually remains disinterested, was compelled to file this case on strict merits. Few women before Ms. Shiffa Yousafzai have taken such a bold and strong stand.

It is important to note that when Toor received a notice from the FIA, instead of appearing before FIA to explain his position, to contest charges or apologise and delete the offensive videos made against a woman journalist that would have probably ended the matter, with his honest apologiees, he landed in Islamabad High Court on the grand plea that “the state of Pakistan is after him.”

Prominent anchorperson Dr. Moeed Pirzada who has written a detailed analytic piece on this episode is of the opinion that Toor and his lawyers perhaps concluded that it would have been difficult to defend some of his comments made against the woman journalist, therefore, he decided to play his case to the larger gallery of “journalist versus state.”. In his petition to the High Court, on 4th May, Toor and his lawyer never addressed the complaint by Ms. Shiffa Yousafzai but instead cited an old finished case to take the stand that state of Pakistan is hounding him.

On March 25, Asad tweeted a video link from his Youtube channel named ‘Asad Toor Uncensored’ where he attacked the character of Hum News presenter. This has been nothing new for Mr. Toor, many other journalists are also upset and angry on his objectionable conduct, he recently attacked the wives of another famous TV Anchor. However to this day no one has taken a stand against him like Ms. Shiffa Yousafzai.

According to sources in media and social media, Toor may have been upset by Ms. Shiffa’s tweets on politics but instead of attacking her tweets he started attacking her person and character on flimsy grounds. Toor also attacked the journalist as a woman, with a gender specific sexist language, when he questioned Sultana Appa, CEO Hum News, for giving value to anchorpersons with “beautiful faces” with little knowledge about current affairs. He also accused that she is important because she is moving with ministers in their cars. But making false accusations is nothing new for Mr. Toor. Prominent Journalist, Rauf Klasra had sued him for false accusations and was awarded damages or Rs. 1 million in 2020.

Read more: Asad Toor Affair: Exposed Unprofessionalism of Pakistani Media

Toor’s personal attack and harsh tone against a female journalist garnered attention of several prominent journalists in Pakistan. Anchor person, Arsahd Sharif has done a segment describing the case against him in court. Dr. Moeed Pirzada has written a detailed analysis of his repeated behavioural problems.

Pakistan Television (PTV) former anchorperson Tanzeela Mazhar wrote that Asad Toor tried to scandalized Shiffa Yousafzai as a woman with no character and unprofessional.

However, several media organizations and their journalists, argue some analysts, in Pakistan remained aloof from the incident and did not condemn Mr. Toor for attacking a journalist for being a woman. That probably happened, because Mr. Toor has successfully planted the idea that country’s government and establishment is after him. Most however think that he suffers from ideas of grandiosity.

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