Censorship: Setting the record straight

Published: April 24, 2014
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Accusing us of adopting a hostile policy to freedom of expression and media solidarity is a figment of Mr. Alam’s wild imagination. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Accusing us of adopting a hostile policy to freedom of expression and media solidarity is a figment of Mr. Alam’s wild imagination. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The Express Media Group is breaking with norms that state that the reply to a resignation from an employee or a person associated with the organisation should be sent privately or directly to the individual concerned.

However, Mr. Imtiaz Alam, host of the television show Achha Lagey Bura Lagey, decided to have his resignation published in The News and Jang newspapers, that were running a malicious slander campaign against Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency and its chief.

As this resignation letter contains lies and fabrications, this leaves us no option but to set the record straight. Hence, its publication in our newspapers for the media and public at large.

Sending a copy of the resignation with baseless fabrications and lies to rivals and having it published on the front pages is nothing short of a planned conspiracy. We now have confirmed information that this was drafted in connivance with the journalists of Geo.

The attack on Mr. Hamid Mir is deplorable and our prayers are with him. We wish him an early recovery.

Mr. Alam in his resignation letter confuses freedom of the press with deliberate misinformation. The Express Media Group is all for the freedom of the press. Who else than us to better know about the freedom of the press, given the price we have paid in the form of attacks on our organisation from those who want to silence us. Three Express employees have been killed, our offices attacked with grenades and automatic weapons, the vehicle of our anchor and the homes of our reporters attacked leaving one more person dead.

But freedom of the press does not give any media house a mandate to place blame on the doorstep of an institution or a person without substantive proof.

At Express we do not have censorship as stated by Mr. Alam. We expect the highest levels of professional integrity from our anchors and reporters. But after watching Mr. Alam’s tirade against the ISI and its DG in the past few days on Geo television, we correctly felt that there was need for caution in this matter. We rightly doubted the integrity of Mr. Alam, and he was thus advised that the show should be recorded and then aired. He was never stopped from airing of his program.

Accusing us of adopting a hostile policy to freedom of expression and media solidarity is a figment of Mr. Alam’s wild imagination. The same is true of his contention that the management of Express News got disturbed by his program.

It was deplorable to see a veteran journalist like Mr. Alam, who is also the Secretary General of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) spitting venom, making wild accusations against the ISI and its DG, knowing fully well that these accusations would be broadcast by his counterparts in India and spread internationally.

To accuse us of having plans at the behest of someone else is ludicrous. The one with the hidden agenda was Mr. Alam who had become part of a defamation campaign orchestrated by the Jang / Geo group and its employees.

We were not wrong in our estimation. After Mr. Alam’s program was not aired, the group found its answer in his resignation letter to the CEO of the Express Media group. This letter was copied to Mir Shakil ur Rehman of the Jang/Geo group, and published on the front pages of their publications.

What was alarming was why this letter was copied also to Vinod Sharma of the Hindustan Times. Mr. Alam’s motives here are highly questionable. Why would a ‘respected’ journalist from Pakistan inform a journalist in India that he has resigned from his show as the management was not allowing him to use their platform against their own armed forces?. Vinod Sharma’s newspaper, Hindustan Times, had a field day with the story.

We reserve the right to initiate legal proceedings against Mr. Alam for his blatant lie that ‘we were keen to run a vilification campaign against a rival media group and that we had other plans on the behest of somebody else to launch a media campaign against our media rival group’. At no point was this discussed, mentioned or spoken to him. It is just shameful that he would stoop so low in making up these conjectures.

If there is ill-intent, it can be seen here. While a person of Mr. Alam’s stature is willing to go on air and make unsubstantiated allegations against a respected pillar of the state in which he spews venom and incites hatred, there is nothing wrong in that. But for the Express Group to try and review such actions from taking place suggest that we were going against the freedom of the press.

Was our respected journalist informing his ‘handlers’ that he tried his best, and has sacrificed his position as a talk show host in an attempt to use the platform of Express to spew out vicious slander as he has done on the platform of Geo TV.

What is the nexus between Mr. Alam’s Pakistani and Indian handlers? Joining the dots in this case is the job of the country’s intelligence agencies.

We stand vindicated, as we did the right thing by not allowing Mr. Alam to go live with his television program.

His clips on Geo show what he would have said to please his handlers.

The resignation of Mr. Imtiaz Alam is accepted.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Ahmad Hassan
    Apr 24, 2014 - 4:32PM

    This is getting extremely ugly. The only winners out of this whole mess are the enemies of Pakistan whoever they may be. Please let the courts do their jobs for crying out loud.

    Recommend

  • Asjad
    Apr 24, 2014 - 4:54PM

    Has Express tribune not run/published accusations against politicians (especially Mr Zardari when he was President) made by security experts, political pundits and ex army officials without any proof?

    Why is that now suddenly there is an urge to give proof before making any allegation against the act of an agency with such past?

    ET, will you publish this:)?

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  • Babur Chughtai
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:17PM

    Thank you to Express and the Tribune for this clarification, which puts Imtiaz Alam in his place. This is a historic statement. It exposes Imtiaz Alam’s reality. A petty, small-time opportunist who rose to fame thanks to a questionable platform, SAFMA.

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  • Khan
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:19PM

    Bravo ET! You took the right decision and thereby exposed the nefarious intents of Mr. Imtiaz Alam. Publishing resignation in a rival newspaper and sending same to his Indian counterparts, clearly add up to more than Mr. Alam’s quest for journalistic freedom. Your positive approach must be appreciated.

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  • Sam
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:29PM

    The resignation of Mr. Imtiaz Alam is accepted and may he live happily ever after. With all this fiasco, one thing is for sure that journalist community has been divided. Cracks visible. Musharraf was never able to achieve this but only GEO managed to do it and that too in a remarkably style. Kudos to all.

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  • @Gibbyk1
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:39PM

    Many words come to mind ET. Disingenuous is the most polite though.

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  • PakistanUnited
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:53PM

    Good decision, hats off to tribune owners for not selling themselves like many others.

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  • Pakistani 1
    Apr 24, 2014 - 5:55PM

    Why would a ‘respected’ journalist from Pakistan inform a journalist in India that he has resigned from his show as the management was not allowing him to use their platform against their own armed forces?. Vinod Sharma’s newspaper, Hindustan Times, had a field day with the story.
    What is the nexus between Mr. Alam’s Pakistani and Indian handlers? Joining the dots in this case is the job of the country’s intelligence agencies.

    There is no need for joining the dots and being an ISI’s job, it was clear from day one that Geo with the connivance of Hindustan Times and with the support of the Indian Intelligence was on a sinister campaign to defame, ridicule, demoralize the ISI and the Pakistan Army…this is called Psy-Ops, a new weapon in new war technique.
    Points to ponder for the dumb Nawaz government…before the army powers its way to stop this dangerous liaison.

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  • Kamran
    Apr 24, 2014 - 6:07PM

    Apprecited

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  • Muhammad Taqi
    Apr 24, 2014 - 6:18PM

    Well done Express. We all condemn attack on Hamid Mir but that does not give anyone right to malign ISI without investigation even started.

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  • 357
    Apr 24, 2014 - 6:41PM

    ‘But freedom of the press does not give any media house a mandate to place blame on the doorstep of an institution or a person without substantive proof.’

    tribune.com.pk/story/621895/raja-rental-reloaded-nab-to-file-reference-against-ex-pm-in-power-case/

    A pinch of shame wouldn’t hurt, ET. And do tell us who is this Raja Rental exactly.

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  • H Q
    Apr 24, 2014 - 9:50PM

    ET’s respect on my personal scale has gone up exponentially.

    This is called Free but Responsible Press. Keep it up ET. Very well done.

    Imtiaz Alam has not only shamed himself, SAFMA and GEO, but has left behind a lesson for all of his kind who think that Freedom of Expression gives them the right to go haywire, cause chaos, and then claim immunity based on FoE.

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  • Apr 24, 2014 - 11:55PM

    shame on express news.hire mubasgir luqman instead of imtiaz alam!

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  • Zulqarnain Haider
    Apr 25, 2014 - 3:54AM

    Shame on ET for its double standards.

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  • Moeed
    Apr 25, 2014 - 7:20AM

    What kind of bazari language is this ? Indian “handlers”???? Are you kidding me?

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  • MAD
    Apr 25, 2014 - 11:15AM

    Express News has the right to reveiw of pre-record its shows. Imtiaz Alam being an employee should understand that.

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 25, 2014 - 7:42PM

    Neither the ISI nor its Dg are holy cows and must be criticised and reported to the law officers if the media has a credible information, and without disclosing the source!!
    This is what is called Press Freedom and freedom of expression.

    Rex Minor

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  • wilmerdon
    Apr 25, 2014 - 7:53PM

    @Moeed: Nobody seems to know or care anything about any Imtiaz Alam in India! We have enough to worry right now with a right wing nationalist party likely to come to power. There has been no news in the media about either this journalist or The Tribune

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  • Faheem
    Apr 25, 2014 - 11:07PM

    ET puts him in his rightful place….Recommend

  • Anwar Hyatt
    Apr 25, 2014 - 11:40PM

    @Moeed:

    Open a dictionary and you’ll fine out…

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  • Strategic Asset
    Apr 26, 2014 - 2:57AM

    @Asjad is right!

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  • Apr 26, 2014 - 1:38PM

    If we are so conscious about what others say about us… then why dont we set our in house affairs straight so that no one have courage to spit on our faces. Why we all maligning our people on raising voices on injustice and undue pressures from the agencies. Why we feel all other institutes of our country can be criticized but agencies are sacred cows and what ever they do are not questionable in the country…. Do we think world around us is blind, and if we will not say a world then they will start to honor our agencies. Or we are still living in a bubble of imagination that if we hide our faces in the sand the danger will go away.

    Now when every institution is in question then why not agencies ? Why we care about India’s criticism so much? are we looking for character certificates from Indian media or what? Their criticism may not matter to us .. but people of Pakistan do matter, their criticism must be listened and answered accordingly as democratic norms demand. Extremist reactions from any section of our life must be discarded

    Recommend

  • muzaffar mansoor
    Apr 27, 2014 - 3:23PM

    Unfortunately PMLN and its old junk ministers pursue obvious sound inclination towards India and anti army policy and their support to GEO, Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Hamid Mir can be safely interpreted as a collaboration in their hidden agenda or pursuing the same individually. The whole issue lies with dishonest politicians. Army rule has been comparatively corruption free. Civilian rule save the founder time was gravely corrupt unfaithful un nationalist money mongers. Best is a joint rule by army and civil ie presidential system where president be a retired army man and PM a civilian will keep temptation and corruption under control. Civilian rules had been deeply failures. Free Pakistan from corrupt mullahs and politicians.

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  • Apr 27, 2014 - 7:09PM

    @muzaffar mansoor:
    Dear sir, your claim “Army rule has been comparatively corruption free. ” is nothing but good joke. Army’s attack on civilian govt. is biggest corruption.

    You said: ” Civilian rules had been deeply failures. Free Pakistan from corrupt mullahs and politicians.”

    Well sir, This is another perception created to justify the illegitimate rule of Army Generals. Pakistan must be free but not from politicians but form corrupt mullahs and corrupt and political army generals. Army can gain its due respect when it stays on their line of duty. If they keep on interfering in other people’s business then they will have to keep on fighting with the Pakistani people who support Democracy. Pakistan’s future rather bright future is only in the Democracy not in the Army / Mullah rule.

    Recommend

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