Home News Analysis Zardari’s Interview taken down: Can he even appear on National TV?

Zardari’s Interview taken down: Can he even appear on National TV?

In a latest development, the interview of former Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau over corruption allegations, went off-air after it was aired by Geo News on Monday.

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Host, Hamid Mir, in a tweet, expressed his anger and frustration while slamming those who ordered to take down the interview. Mir, a senior journalist who has interviewed many foreign as well as local leaders throughout his journalistic career, last night regretted expressing “we are not living in a free country”.

In a series of tweets, Mr Mir added that within a few minutes during the telecast, Geo News announced, Mr Zardari’s interview would not be aired. “I am getting calls from all over the world with people asking what happened? State of Pakistan is giving a bad name to this country. We don’t need enemies,” he stated.

Mir also questioned what was wrong asking questions from the former president while sitting in the parliament? “What’s wrong in it? I asked some questions to the ex-President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari and he responded? Is he a bigger criminal than Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman of TTP? Remember, Ehsanullah Ehsan gave interview from official custody. I interviewed Asif Zardari in the Parliament House,” questioned Mr Mir. He was referring to former spokesperson who is in custody of the Pakistan army and his interview was aired with Saleem Safi.

It only happens in Pakistan where an accused, in custody of NAB on physical remand, appears on television to give us a lecture on democracy transparency.

PPP chairman and son of Zardari slammed the government for being “selected” and interested to listen to selected opinion.

Should an Accused be Allowed to Appear on National TV?

Soon after the controversy broke out on social media, a new debate commenced; “whether an accused of money laundering and corruption be allowed to appear on national TV or not.” Several people argued that since there is a trend in Pakistan that everyone including accused people, appear on TV and defend their case, so Zardari’s interview must not have created something irregular.

Read more: 7 Facts About Zardari’s Case

Senior journalist Rauf Klasra responded to Mr. Mir and said that “No offense please, but nowhere a top politician accused of money laundering, fraud & fake accounts is allowed one hour air time to justify his crimes. It only happens in Pakistan where an accused, in custody of NAB on physical remand, appears on television to give us a lecture on democracy transparency.”

Mr. Mir replied to Klasra, saying “No offense please, but nowhere in the world a top terrorist becomes a royal guest of state and you know who that is? He is Ehasanullah Ehsan, who accepted responsibility of planting a bomb under my car. He gave television interviews in “official custody” Zardari spoke to me in the Parliament.”

Klasra acknowledged and replied to Mr. Mir, “Agreed sir—But if am not wrong, the same Geo interviewed this “top terrorist” Ehsanullah and aired it to whole world to help him justify his crimes against humanity. Why is it always Geo that offers its shoulders to such criminals against whom even you have genuine concerns?”

But in another shocking move, Mr. Mir revealed that he was not even allowed to speak on the subject on Dawn news. He tweeted “I was sitting in front of a Dawn News camera for an 11 o’clock show and I received a call that @ZaraHatKay_Dawn team is under pressure not to interview me on Asif Ali Zardari issue. They apologized, and I thanked them that somebody is running and controlling Pakistan on telephone calls”

In Pakistan, the subject of media freedom remained a hot talk. It is yet to be seen how does the journalist community respond to it? The question of allowing accused and convicted criminals on TV channels needs more deliberation and attention.

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