Senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen sent out defamation notices worth Rs1 billion each to anchorpersons Shahzeb Khanzada and Waseem Badami for making "false imputations" in their news programmes that have or are likely to cause "serious harm and injury to his reputation".
According to the notice sent to him, Khanzada in his programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath, which aired on Geo News on January 21, had given the impression that Tareen was part of a "sugar mafia" and was "collusively involved or complicit in causing artificial inflation" of refined sugar across the country.
Furthermore, the notice said, Khanzada had suggested that Tareen was "managing or deciding" the federal and provincial governments' policy pertaining to the production, sales, import or export of refined sugar which had led to an increase in the commodity's price. It was also implied that Tareen's interest in the sugar industry was "obstructing the due regulation of sugar mills and the price of sugar" by authorities.
The notice pointed out that Tareen was not a part of the federal or provincial governments and therefore, cannot influence the policy-making process. It also insisted that the PTI leader had "no nexus with or any authority over regulatory institutions" such as the Competition Commission of Pakistan.
Khanzada was addressing the rising sugar prices in his programme and had said that Tareen, "who is looking at matters of the import and export of agricultural products, owns sugar mills".
In a separate notice sent to Badami, Tareen took exception to being referred to as "corrupt" in the anchorperson's show 11th Hour, aired on ARY News on January 23. According to the notice, Badami had offered "no proof or evidence of the alleged corruption of or corrupt practice(s)" against Tareen.
In his programme, Badami, while talking about Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2019 report, had said that the prime minister had surrounded himself with people who had been accused of corruption.
In both the notices, Tareen complained that Khanzada and Badami had not sought his response to the "highly malicious, defamatory and damaging" statements.
Terming Khanzada and Badami's statements as "unfounded and concocted", Tareen's counsel demanded that the anchorpersons withdraw their "defamatory imputations", tender a "proper public apology" in their respective programmes as well as "publish a contradiction of the said defamatory statement(s)".
The notices warned that if the anchorpersons did not take the above measures, legal proceedings would be initiated against both of them for damages amounting to Rs1bn each under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002.