IHC issues notices to govt, Pemra on journalist’s petition

Updated 17 Oct 2020

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Fakhar Durrani, the petitioner, works for an English-language daily.  — AFP/File
Fakhar Durrani, the petitioner, works for an English-language daily. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) issued notices to the secretaries of the interior and information ministries, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman and the inspector general of Islamabad on Friday on a petition filed against the alleged harassment of a journalist.

Chief Justice Athar Min­allah called for a reply from the above-named respon­dents and put off further proceedings for a fortnight.

Fakhar Durrani, the petitioner, works for an English-language daily.

Imran Shafiq, the counsel for Mr Durrani, informed the court that a smear campaign had started against the petitioner after he filed a story about properties purportedly owned by the relatives of retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, who heads the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority.

The counsel said a British woman of Pakistan descent, Sabiha, posted on her Twitter account information about, as she put it, a company owned by Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. The company is named Bajco LLC.

A series of tweets from the woman’s account claimed the Bajwa family owns a franchise, Papa John’s Pizza, under the Bajco LLC banner. The tweets generated a heated debate on social media, said Mr Shafiq, the lawyer for the journalist.

According to Mr Shafiq, a TV channel aired “a special news report” on Sept 16 in which it alleged that the petitioner was involved in data leakage from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). The report went on to allege that Fakhar Durrani, the petitioner, shared the leaked data with a retired Indian Army officer.

“The channel is a rival of my client’s employers,” Mr Shafiq said.

He requested the court to issue directives for the respondents not to harass the petitioner.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2020