KARACHI: A suit for damages worth ten billion rupees was filed by Muttahidda Qaumi Movement leaders against ARY Communications and Kashif Abbasi, host of its programme ‘Off the Record’, for allegedly maligning and insulting Altaf Hussain and the MQM as a party.
The suit was filed by Dr Farooq Sattar, MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly in his capacity as deputy convener of the party.
The plaintiff citing the vision and ideology of Altaf Hussain and revolutionary programme of the party said that as a result of these policies, landed aristocracy always feel threatened. But despite a number of state-sponsored operations against MQM, the party always secured a record number of votes in successive elections.
In view of increasing popularity of the party MQM, another conspiracy was hatched to malign the MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain and as a part of this in a programme ‘Off the Record’ telecast on February 29, 2012 on ARY News Channel the defendant had interviewed Wasim Akhtar of MQM.
The defendant had categorically insinuated that there was an allegation against Altaf Hussain for having taken Rs20 million from agencies, in response to which Wasim Akhtar had stated that Altaf was not arrayed in the list filed in the Supreme Court, of the recipients of the money/funds from the agencies. Wasim Akhtar had also asked the defendant to show the list available in the record of the Supreme Court in Asghar Khan’s case.
Subsequently, in another programme on March 5, 2012, the defendant took the stance that he had no hidden agenda and was not against any political party. But at the same time, the defendant complained of the demeanour of Wasim Akhtar in his previous programme.
The plaintiff maintained that the defendant was under a legal duty to have consulted the said record before conducting the programme.
A legal notice was served on the defendant on March 15, 2012, for damaging the reputation of Altaf Hussain and the plaintiffs, but till date the defendant has neither denied nor accepted the contents of the legal notice.
The court was prayed to order for an immediate and unconditional apology to the plaintiffs from the defendant, which should be telecast both on national and international television/satellite net-works and also direct the defendant to pay to the plaintiffs ten billion rupees, along with markup from the date of accruing till the date of actual payment.
The suit is likely to be heard next week.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.