Anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood told the Supreme Court on Saturday that he does not wish to contest the findings of an inquiry committee which had termed his startling claims about the convicted rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur to be false and baseless.
In a written statement submitted to the court today by his counsel, the News One anchor stopped short of formally apologising for his allegations, but attempted to assure the apex court that he will observe "due diligence" in the future before making similar claims.
"I further submit that whatever the inquiry committee has concluded I do not contest and refute the same," wrote Dr Masood, who had earlier offered to be hanged if his allegations are proven incorrect.
Implicitly casting doubt on the inquiry committee's findings, the anchorperson said that although the committee had included him and others in the investigation, he "could not comment on the veracity of its [the committee] findings" because the court had itself selected members of the probe team.
Dr Masood had claimed during a late night show in January that convict Imran Ali was a member of a pornography gang which also includes a Punjab minister. During earlier hearings of the case, he had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who had taken a suo motu notice of the TV programme, had on Wednesday refused to accept a verbal apology from Dr Masood, saying it was too late after the inquiry committee in its report found the anchor's allegations to be untrue. The court would proceed in the case in accordance with the law, the CJP had said.
The court had subsequently issued a notice to News One channel and sought a reply from its management for airing the misleading programme related to the Kasur rape-murder case.
Thanking the SC for taking a "prompt action" against his programme that was broadcast on January 24, Dr Masood said that since Zainab's murder was a highly sensitive issue, "I not only being an anchor and journalist but also a father was highly concerned and emotionally upset."
Explaining how he reached his conclusions about the murder convict, the anchorperson said that the manner in which Zainab was raped and murdered and the torture marks that were observed on the child's body were "identical" to incidents of violent child pornography, which he claimed are broadcast on the 'dark web'.
Dr Masood said he had come across such recordings through his own sources in which children are sexually assaulted and murdered and "the same is viewed live by many people across the world and the same involves [a] hefty amount of money".
According to the anchorperson, he formed the opinion that convict Imran Ali was part of an international child pornography racket after he received information about certain bank accounts of the accused and his alleged connections with influential personalities.
"That with all this sensitivity and emotional distress I conducted the show on the fateful evening [of January 24", which culminated into the chief justice taking a notice of the programme, Dr Masood said.
"I... assure this august court that I shall observe due diligence and care before making any such statement [in the future]," he concluded.