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The silent ghazal

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Written by Ruchika Talwar |
June 16, 2012 3:13:55 am

The silent ghazal

It would be unfair to tag Mehdi Hassan a Pakistani singer. He belonged to the world of music. Newspapers in Pakistan,as in India,celebrated his life,and did not mourn his death. Websites of Pakistani news channels reported that his family had demanded the Sindh government to allow their father a resting place inside the premises of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum,the iconic Mazar-e-Quaid,which has become emblematic of Pakistan. The newspapers,however,missed reporting this one. The request was not complied with and north Karachi’s Shah Muhammad Graveyard was chosen as the place for his burial instead,newspapers reported. The celebrated ghazal singer was laid to rest on June 15.

Memorandum of understanding?

LAST year’s “Memogate Commission”,probing a controversy involving Pakistan’s former envoy to the US,Husain Haqqani,saw its first pit stop. A sensational article in The Financial Times in 2011,by Mansoor Ijaz,an American businessman of Pakistani origin,stated that he had been tasked by Haqqani,on Pakistan President Asif Zardari’s request,to pass on a memorandum (the “memo”) to then US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen by Ijaz’s friend and then US National Security Adviser,General James Jones,beseeching the Obama administration to help avert a possible military takeover of Pakistan’s government after Osama bin Laden was killed inside Pakistani territory by US Navy SEALS in May 2011.

Following the political furore created by Memogate,Haqqani was made to resign from public service,and a commission was formed to investigate the scandal. The Memogate Commission,as it came to be called,earlier this week declared Haqqani guilty of authoring the memo and being disloyal to Pakistan. Haqqani,an avid tweeter,defended himself on Twitter,The News reported on June 12: “He… said that the commission is not a court and those claiming it has determined guilt or innocence are wrong. ‘Those who endorsed military dictators and allowed them 2 amend constitution cannot judge my -or anyone else’s -patriotism’…” The case has been adjourned for two weeks now.

Chief scandal

CONTROVERSY is not new to Pakistan. It never was. Last week,this column recorded how chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son,Arsalan,got embroiled in a bribery case involving a Pakistani real estate tycoon,Malik Riaz,cases against whom were being heard by his father. Chaudhry,showing professional uprightness,recused himself from the bench hearing the case against Riaz,earning loud applause from one and all. But this week,the tide turned.

Daily Times reported on June 13: “Riaz accused Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of holding secret meetings with him ‘in the darkness of nights’ in the presence of his son… ‘I have come here with the holy Quran,just like the chief justice did’.”

A new chapter was added every day to Pakistan’s newest scandal. Along with reporting on this news,the media itself became the news. Two of Pakistan’s controversial yet prominent TV news anchors have landed on the wrong side of the fence. Hosting shows on the bribery case,Mubashir Lucman and Meher Bokhari of the popular Dunya TV,appear to have had their hands in the pie too.

A video titled “Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bukhari and Mubashir Lukman on Dunya” was uploaded on YouTube earlier this week by “investigativereporter”,that jolted all those watching the Arsalan-Riaz-Chaudhry triangle. A behind-the-scenes clip of a TV news show jointly hosted by Bokhari and Lucman,this video shows the duo interviewing Riaz.

The Express Tribune reported on June 15: “The behind-the-scenes video includes dozens of sound bites that would implicate the anchors of (sic) scripting the entire show to please the influential businessman. One of the most incriminating statements during the show was made by Bokhari: ‘Say what you want. What question we should ask. It will appear as though it is planted. It is,but it shouldn’t appear it is,’ said Bokhari… Both anchors are also instructed against interrupting Riaz during the interview… Interestingly,tension could be detected between the two hosts during the off-the-record footage… Riaz is then seen pleading with the two anchors to stop the fighting. ‘Please don’t ruin my programme . My whole life is at stake’… Other highlights of the video include a call received by Lucman from Abdul Qadir Gilani,the son of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani,and he hands the phone to Riaz to discuss the ‘content’ of the show…” Bokhari,the report added,defended herself saying what she did was “normal” and that if any other TV anchor who worked differently,was “lying”. Lucman was unavailable.

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