LAHORE - There’s a war raging on in the media. And another in the hearts and minds of the people.
The Malik Riaz-Arsalan graft scandal has brought forth a facet of media that was the last thing on people’s mind, who marveled at the freedom and impartiality exercised by the country’s fourth estate while grinding the politicians for their alleged corruption and indifference towards the people.
Wednesday’s “exclusive” interview of Malik Riaz conducted by fiery Dunya News anchor Meher Bukhari, who a Norwegian founder of a trendy genre of journalism once called the “perfect type of candidate to promote Pakistan”, and Mubashar Lucman, the host of Khari Baat (true talk), was little expected to become for Pakistanis what the atomic bomb was for Hiroshima. While Dunya News spent the day in damage control exercises like downplaying its rival Geo News, claiming how the channel had lied to people at several occasions and backtracked, and talking to the people on the streets who instantly supported Dunya News for its upright stance and morals, all is still not well on the air waves.
Dunya News posted on its website that Geo News was admonished for airing baseless news against the judiciary in Arsalan case order.
Its transmission also kept repeating the following tickers, demonizing Geo News and its anchors:
(1)Hamid Mir was accused by Sheikh Rashid for arranging ‘paid’ programmes.
(2)Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan confessed in writing to the Supreme Court that they aired stories without verification.
(3) Shaheen Sehbai’s interview was uploaded without establishing the authenticity of its contents.
(4) Geo News picked up propaganda campaign against judiciary after Shaheen Sehbai uploaded the interview.
Not one to stay back, Geo News was persistent in its efforts to impress upon its viewers the channel’s “unflinching support for the judiciary and its impartiality”.
Sana Bucha, anchor of “Lekin”, jumped into the foray with Hamid Mir as one of the participants. The other three invited were the PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, the PML-N’s Khawaja Asif and the PML-Q’s Sheikh Waqas Akram.
What these exercises will result in nobody knows, but some social media users said all would be forgotten in time as Pakistanis had poor memory and the anchors would soon be seen on other channels. A worthy argument indeed!
Earlier in the day, the Kohisar Police Station in Islamabad registered an FIR [First Information Report] against unidentified people for uploading “off-air” segments of Malik Riaz’s interview. The application was filed by the administration officer of Dunya News.
The leaked footage of the “off-air” of Meher and Lucman’s controversial guest Malik Riaz has not only gone viral but has in the process opened up an irrepressible can of worms. The “off-air” scenes show the two anchors taking instructions from an unidentified caller of not hindering Malik Riaz’s talk, Lucman itching to take a shot at Geo News anchor Hamid, and Meher considering how to make a question not look planted, were saddening for everyone who watched it.
Mubashar Lucman has reportedly been temporarily sacked, while Meher has been asked to resign within 24 hours or get sacked.
All these remain reports yet to be verified, but what is verifiable is that the credibility of media as an impartial voice has been extremely compromised.