News Analysis |
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday banned senior anchorperson Dr. Shahid Masood from appearing on his television show for three months in the Zainab rape and murder case. He was also ordered to submit an unconditional apology to the court for propagating false information. When the hearing began, SC was told that the accused ridiculed a court officer, Additional Advocate General Punjab Ayesha Hamid, on his show a day earlier.
He was severely reprimanded by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar for his remarks. “It is possible we initiate contempt proceedings against him,” the CJP remarked, adding, “How dare he say this about my law officer”. The clips from the show were displayed before the court and it was suspended afterwards. When the court resumed, the CJP reminded Masood that he claimed if his allegations were proven false, the court should hang him.
It all depends on the level of importance being placed on information. The greatest threat to Pakistan is the fifth generation warfare according to military and strategic experts. The fifth generation warfare is all about controlling and manipulating minds to subjugate and antagonize the nation.
The CJP said that they won’t give him the capital punishment but he should decide his own punishment. He suggested that Masood’s show should be banned for 6 months but after back and forth arguments, it was decided that Masood will be banned for 3 months from appearing on his show. “I don’t know what you think of the courts in Pakistan,” said the CJP while addressing Masood. “Let it be clear that either the courts have evolved or maybe I have changed.”
Shahid Masood’s allegations
On 24th January, Dr. Shahid Masood in his program on channel ‘NewsOne’ alleged that the culprit in Zainab’s murder case held 37 foreign accounts and was part of an international pornography ring. Masood also alleged that the pornographic organization had links with a senior Punjab minister. The Supreme Court also took a suo moto notice of the case and summoned Dr. Shahid on the next day, and asked him to provide evidence of his claims.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court (SC) to probe into Dr. Shahid Masood’s allegations regarding the rape and murder case of Zainab Ansari submitted its report to the SC on 1st March. The report had declared all the allegations of Shahid Masood false and baseless. The report further stated that there was no evidence of Imran holding any foreign accounts and he was a poor man. The JIT also failed to find any evidence that Imran had accessed the dark web to sell child pornography. Masood had also claimed that some influential people will try to prove that Imran was a mental patient or try to get him killed during custody but no proof was found for either of the claims.
The CJP said that they won’t give him the capital punishment but he should decide his own punishment. He suggested that Masood’s show should be banned for 6 months but after back and forth arguments.
Masood’s claim that Imran Ali held 37 foreign accounts was debunked by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on 26th January. The SBP sent Imran’s CNIC to all commercial banks but couldn’t find any accounts in his name. The JIT report debunked the remaining claims of Masood. It clarified that Masood didn’t provide the name of any Punjab minister to the SC and couldn’t prove Imran’s links with any political party or pornographic ring.
Zainab Murder Case
Zainab was abducted on 3rd January from near her house in Kasur, later on 9th January, her raped and abused dead body was found in a trash heap. The main accused, Imran Ali, was caught through DNA tests. He was later found to have been involved in attacks on at least seven other children, five of whom were murder. Imran was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on 17th February.
A number of media persons and political figures have claimed that Masood’s punishment is inadequate compared to his crime. They believe that he deliberately tried to mislead the nation by quoting information without any strong evidence over a sensitive case like Zainab’s. Media is rightly considered to be the fourth pillar of the state by modern media analysts. The power to make and break narratives lies in the hands of the media so it is very important for the custodians of media to use it responsibly.
Oh this drama of loud sounds and hollow fury. The fact about Shahid Masood’s ‘punishment’ is that he has been given a 3-month paid holiday ending exactly around election time—-what a farce. 1/2
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) March 20, 2018
In an unprecedented move CJ Saqib Nisar allows Shahid Masood to fix his own judgement & punishment!!! Shahid Masood punished himself by staying off air for 3 months & an unconditional apology to the court for lying to the public.Justice served to who?
— Munizae Jahangir (@MunizaeJahangir) March 20, 2018
Some people are demanding a stricter punishment for Shahid Masood since politicians who are caught lying are banned for life from the parliament but is the comparison warranted? There are some similarities since a parliamentarian represents his people at the highest forum while a journalist also becomes the voice of the voiceless but has greater control over the minds of his audience than a parliamentarian. On the other hand, a parliamentarian designs and enacts laws for the country while a journalist has no actual power to enforce laws or make rules for the people.
It all depends on the level of importance being placed on information. The greatest threat to Pakistan is the fifth generation warfare according to military and strategic experts. The fifth generation warfare is all about controlling and manipulating minds to subjugate and antagonize the nation. Media persons lie at the heart of this warfare so anyone found propagating false information and turning the people against the government or the state should be punished stringently.