Our television justice system

Published: June 8, 2012
The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One

The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One

Chickens are coming home to roost and some claim that it’s pure karma. They maintain that the Chief Justice of Pakistan was impaled upon his own sword of overdependence on the media. Such is the state of euphoria in some circles that people often forget that thus far, the so-called familygate is based on pure hearsay. And even if empirical evidence is presented before the Court, it will do nothing to harm the integrity of the Court as long as justice is upheld.

No, something else has gone awfully wrong. For some time, anger over the media’s indiscretions has been mounting in various circles. Not a day passes when we don’t come across people, both in uniform and in civvies, complaining about our collective inadequacies. And this time, the media or a highly pampered section of it, has bitten more than it can chew.

It all started with three anchors and one editor working for a single media group. They claim that they have seen evidence implicating Arsalan Iftikhar and that should be enough to implicate him, but the problem is that they are not forensic experts. Yet, that didn’t stop them from issuing edicts against the CJ’s son. This haste in upholding their own version of the law has seriously jeopardised the credibility of television talk shows. Imagine their cheek that when appearing before the Court, they claimed that they had no doubt about the veracity of the said evidence. Regardless of his alleged crimes, a man has once again been declared guilty and is being asked to prove his innocence. Err, was it not supposed to be the other way around?

There is no dearth of aggrieved parties who have issues with the way the Supreme Court is being run. However, this problem is bigger than having petty differences with the Court. If you allow someone to wield this kind of unfettered power that he can be the judge, jury and the executioner, and that, too, without producing even a shred of evidence, there is no guarantee that such a person will one day not turn against you. Such people can singlehandedly rock the moorings of our state and further decimate what remains of our social fabric.

It is now incumbent upon bodies like the Pakistan Broadcasters Association to take decisions to ensure that some semblance of editorial oversight and accountability remains in place. There is also a need to institute an inquiry within media groups to study the reasons behind the dramatic shift in the stated positions of some of our leading anchors, who until fairly recently used to go all dewy-eyed while talking about the greatness of our judiciary. This is very important when the indirect accuser in the case is already the richest and perhaps, the most powerful man in the country.

Finally, you must have come across some interesting demands. For instance, the president should resign so that a letter can be sent to Switzerland. The prime minister should step aside because he has already been convicted. And finally, the Chief Justice should at least go on vacation until the inquiry is over. All this to save us from the monster called conflict of interest. Isn’t it imperative then that the anchors who have framed the charges against the CJ’s son be asked to relieve themselves from their duties until the matter is settled? Charity, my dear sirs, has to begin at home.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Yasir
    Jun 9, 2012 - 1:11AM

    You too Brutus ? :)


  • Zaheer Baloch
    Jun 9, 2012 - 1:53AM

    Principally I agree with the writer’s view, but why we are becoming so sensitive over media’s attitude on the matter of CJ’s son?? Why we haven’t seen such articles against media when alleged involvement of Hussain Haqqani was being discussed?? Mr. Hamid Saeed Kazmi is behind bars since one and half year without any proofs … can we ask arrest of MR. Arsalan … where evidences are against him for sure. Any case which is under trial must not be discussed so openly and the principal should remain same for all.


  • Cybergenie
    Jun 9, 2012 - 2:26AM

    Very good analysis. I just feel that instead of editorial oversight, Pakistan should have defamation laws to regulate the media. So, for instance, if Dr. Arsalan is not proven guilty then he should have the opportunity to level a defamation case against the relevant anchors.

    The sad reality of the whole situation is that the country – even its educated elite – believes in people rather than institutions.

    Consequently the credibility of the Supreme Court on the shoulders of our beloved CJ rather than on the institution itself.


  • zaka rahman
    Jun 9, 2012 - 4:40AM

    Charity begins at home.
    Anchors were immature for democracy


  • Khalid Faiz
    Jun 9, 2012 - 5:59AM

    Logically argued article, but problem lies in media’s created idol of CJ who also has great thirst of fame. He is ready to any thing to remain in news as a hero, but he can’t fulfill justice’s requirements proposed by you because to go on leave means to cut from news which our beloved CJ can’t afford.


  • Arya
    Jun 9, 2012 - 9:13AM

    “It all started with three anchors and one editor working for a single media group.”
    Which one???


  • Jun 9, 2012 - 10:10AM

    i agree with writer


  • Jun 9, 2012 - 4:44PM

    Well said i agree with your statement.


  • observer
    Jun 9, 2012 - 5:25PM

    Let us go beyond the smokescreen.
    A. There were stories about Dr Arsalan Iftikhar being a beneficiary of ‘undue patronage’ aka corruption as far back as 2006.
    B. These stories remained buried while the CJP was going hammer and tongs in NRO,Swiss Letter, Contempt and Memogate cases.
    C, The CJP has finally decided to pay attention to Asghar Khan case and the Disappeared Person’s case.
    D. The CJP dares to summon IG of FC and ISI honchos.
    E.BINGO, Arsalan Iftikhar case resurfaces.


  • Jun 9, 2012 - 6:25PM

    The problem with that media anchors is of fetching credit first. The mad race of staying number one has brought us to this pass. The issue of Balochistan is at its serious turn and to discourage/malign the CJ, the issue has been created.


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jun 9, 2012 - 7:30PM

    Excellent. Love your punch-line.


  • javaid iqbal
    Jun 10, 2012 - 12:10AM

    The media must be controlled also but who will tie this bell in cat’s neck. They are also human being like us so here only ethics counts. Mr Ansar Abbasi had once wrote about our special daughters but what about special sons like, Arslan, A.Qadir Gillani, Monas Ilahi or Bilawal Bhutto. The difference is that Iftikhar is not backing his son like other fathers do. Be
    brave Ch Iftikhar as we are with u


  • Jun 10, 2012 - 10:03AM

    4 Saal say CJ has not done anything of importance. He pinned NRO on Gillani and let Zardari walk away


  • A Peshawary
    Jun 10, 2012 - 11:16AM

    Sir; why did not you write something when politicians were brought to Supreme Court for justice based on the allegation by the media? The same cases are being still being perdued for political scoring by the politicians and for economic benefits, popularity or good rating by anchors.
    It nice to see that some of the Brahmins anchors are dragger drawn in court. We wish and pray that there is no out of court settlement between them for seekers of truth.

    A Peshawary


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