ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday refused to accept a verbal apology from News One Anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood over his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur.
In his programme on the private news channel, Masood had claimed that Imran Ali maintained over 37 bank accounts, mostly foreign currency denominated, with transactions in dollars, euros and pounds sterling.
Masood had requested the chief justice, prime minister and army chief to take notice of these facts, claiming that the rapist cum murderer was not deranged or an insane person or a simpleton.
During the suo moto hearing of the Zainab case, Masood had handed over to the CJP two names written on a folded paper of ‘influential’ people who, he claimed, were behind an international racket running a child pornography ring.
In the Wednesday’s hearing, the chief justice told the anchorperson that it was too late now to apologise after a joint investigation team (JIT) probing his claims revealed that his allegations were baseless. The court ordered Masood to file his reply in the case within two days.
“In your programme, you said that you should be hanged if your allegations are proven incorrect,” Justice Nisar reminded the anchorperson.
Dr Masood’s counsel said that his client was prepared to do whatever the court asked of him. Following this, the anchorperson verbally apologised twice, but the court refused to accept his apologies.
“Some people had suggested you should apologise in [an earlier hearing in] Lahore,” the CJP said. “The time for an apology has now passed,” CJP Nisar said, adding that Masood could continue contesting the case if he wished.
During the investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) pertaining to the claims made by the anchorperson, Shahid Masood had told the agency that a man named Faisal, who lives in Lebanon and as an aide of the influential minister in the “pornography ring”, gave him this information.
However, when the court asked him about the identity of Faisal in today’s hearing, Masood said that there is no Faisal; in fact it was Zia Shahid, an Urdu newspaper’s editor-in-chief, who gave him the information.
The court adjourned the hearing until March 12 and issued a notice to the private news channel airing Shahid Masood’s talk show as well.
Following the allegation levelled by Masood, the court had summoned several owners of media house and prominent journalists. A JIT was also formed by the authorities to probe the accusations.
The JIT formed to probe the case had submitted its report to the apex court, stating that convict Imran Ali had no connection with any international child pornography ring. “He does not have 37 bank accounts and he has no contacts with any influential personalities like the federal minister,” the report maintained.
Allegations that Imran posted the photo of Zainab were also proven wrong after a thorough investigation, said the report.
A day after presenting evidence to the Supreme Court in January, Dr Shahid Masood backtracked from his statement alleging Zainab’s murderer owned 37 bank accounts, hinting at a child pornography scandal, saying that things are often misreported.
Speaking to a private news channel, the anchorperson said that investigation was not his responsibility and it was the job of state institutions to find the authenticity of the news. “I did not provide this information with any wrong intent,” he said.