KARACHI: Anchorperson Reham Khan apologised to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Zulfi Bukhari on Friday after losing a defamation case brought by the former aide to the prime minster against her in the United Kingdom.

In 2019, Ms Khan had made several allegations of corruption and nepotism against Mr Bukhari, claiming that he, in connivance with Prime Minister Imran Khan, was involved in a “corrupt plan” to sell Pakistan International Airlines-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York and later to purchase it at a lower market price.

Mr Bukhari had objected to these allegations and served a libel case against her, seeking a retraction, damages and cost of legal fees, according to a Dawn.com report.

During a preliminary hearing in London earlier this year, the judge had found that Ms Khan’s words had amounted to a Chase Level 1 imputation. As determined by the judge, this meant that the defamatory words would be understood by an “ordinary reasonable reader” as actual guilt on the part of Mr Bukhari.

Says she will pay Zulfi significant damages

In a statement posted to Twitter, Ms Khan apologised for a number of claims she had made regarding the PTI leader.

Reham Khan said she had made assertions on social media platforms in December 2019 about the PTI leader being allegedly involved in a corrupt plan with Prime Minister Khan to sell and acquire Roosevelt Hotel.

“On Dec 7, 2019, I retweeted a tweet and video by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari was involved in fraud and nepotism by trying to sell a precious asset of the state of Pakistan, the Roosevelt Hotel, for a meagre amount of money,” she said.

These allegations were “false and untrue”, Ms Khan said, adding that Mr Bukhari was not involved in any corrupt plan, fraud, nepotism or attempt to sell the hotel.

On March 15, 2020, Ms Khan said she had shared a tweet and a video that asserted that Mr Bukhari had lied on television including showing fake documents to people. “It was further asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had made money by illegal and fraudulent means and used illegal means to launder it,” she said.

Apologising for this action, she said the PTI leader had never shown any fake documents, had not used illegal or fraudulent means to build his wealth or launder it.

“Zulfi Bukhari has built his wealth; such as it is, through hard work and not through any form of illegal conduct,” Reham Khan wrote.

She also addressed sharing tweets on March 17 and March 20 last year that asserted the PTI leader had acted against journalists, criticising his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and claiming that Mr Bukhari had jeopardised the lives of people due to his “incompetent management” of the disease’s spread.

Ms Khan clarified these allegations were also “false and untrue” since Mr Bukhari had no role to play in managing the coronavirus situation in Pakistan.

“I unconditionally apologise to Zulfi Bukhari for the significant distress, upset and embarrassment which these publications have caused him.

“I have agreed to pay Zulfi Bukhari substantial damages for libel and to pay his legal costs,” Ms Khan explained in her statement.

Mr Bukhari welcomed the development, saying that “truth always wins!”

“Upon court orders, Reham Khan publicly apologises and pays damages for her lies,” he tweeted.

The PTI leader hoped that someday “we’ll have the same law and justice so certain media persons spreading lies and fake news can be taken to task”.

Reacting to the development, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that attempts to bring a legal system similar to the one that had ordered Reham Khan to pay damages and apologise to Mr Bukhari in Pakistan were instead met with resistance by “media owners in the name of freedom of expression”.

“Anyway Reham being a liar was proved once again. She is actually a habitual liar,” Mr Chaudhry tweeted.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021

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