ISLAMABAD: Television anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood has finally given up defending the claims he made in a television programme about the convict in the tragic Zainab rape and murder case.

In a four-page reply submitted to the Supreme Court on Saturday, he did not submit an apology but said that he would remain careful in future.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has taken suo motu notice on the information Dr Masood had presented in his programme, including the involvement of the convict in a child pornography ring and existence of his 37 bank accounts.

A three-member joint investigation team (JIT) in its report submitted to the apex court last week concluded that every single claim made by Dr Masood was without any sound basis.

In his reply, Dr Masood stated that he was emotional and upset over the murder of Zainab since he was also a father besides being an anchorperson.

He said that he had learnt about the existence of child pornography websites and was concerned that the little girl’s murder might be linked with this heinous crime, therefore, he conducted the programme in distress.

He said that since the matter had thoroughly been investigated and the JIT had submitted the report, “I do not contest and refute the same”.

The court will resume the hearing on March 15.

On Jan 29, the court had constituted the JIT to dig out the truth and determine the veracity of allegations levelled by Dr Masood. The JIT comprised Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency Bashir Memon, Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau Anwar Ali and Assistant Inspector General (operation) of Islamabad police Asmatullah Junejo.

The committee was asked to record the statement of Dr Masood and consider any material he desired to produce in support of his claims. It was told to also collect any other relevant material available from other quarters and furnish its report to the court in a month.

In his programme “Live with Dr Shahid Masood,” aired on private TV channel News One, Dr Masood had claimed that the prime suspect Imran Ali, arrested by police on the allegations of raping and killing eight-year-old Zainab and later convicted by court, was an active member of a child pornography ring being run by certain influential people.

He had also claimed that Imran Ali maintained over 37 bank accounts majority of which were in foreign currency with transactions in dollars, euros and pounds sterling.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2018