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PTV News headed by `jihadi’ blacks out anti-Talban news

Pakistan Television News (PTV News) has officially been handed over to the known activists of banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Jihadi elements by the current government despite the fact that government is fighting tooth and nail to prove to the Indians and rest of the world that they have no links with Hafiz Saeed or his banned organization or Jihadi elements.

On the recommendations of the information ministry, PTV management has to hire Imran Meer, a former spokesperson of the banned outfit as Head of PTV News in March 2009.

Investigations and interviews with members of the defunct JuD and media organizations reveal that Imran Meer, head of a channel of PTV News has worked as an official spokesperson for the organization and used to keep a long beard (just like that of Hasham Amla, a cricket player of South Africa or Muhammad Yusuf, a cricketer of Pakistan). Meer used to visit various news outlets or call them to accommodate various statements and activities of JuD leaders and organizations. He was seen at Raiwind facility of the organization on numerous occasions, revealed the activists of banned JuD.

As this was not enough, Meer then facilitated the entry of another alleged activist, Zafar Malik as Director Production. Malik is known for his links with various Jihadi outfits in Kashmir and Afghanistan. He has been assigned the task to control the news production. Malik has also been on record as having links with the kidnapping of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl. Sources confirmed that Malik was detained soon after Daniel Pearl’s slaughter by the visiting American investigators including FBI and was released after a week of interrogations.

When Times of India contacted Imran Mir for his version, he denied having any links with the JuD.

“I worked on senior positions in Pakistan’s top media organization. It is so easy to blame a successful person”, Mir said. But the Peshawar-based PRO/spokesperson of JuD Atiq Chauhan told TOI that Mir was a deputy editor of the organization’s newspaper named “Ghazva”. Chauhan said that Mir had nothing to do with the administrative matters of JuD but was associated with its newspaper. He also confirmed that Mir had kept beard when working for “Ghazva” as its deputy editor.

How can government of Pakistan distance itself from JuD when the only official news channel is controlled by the JuD activists? Ironically, ever since Imran Meer and Zafar Malik has joined PTV, anti-Taliban and anti-Hafiz Saeed news have systematically been removed from the scripts of the PTV News.

PTV News has become yet another newsmaker as for sexual harassment of female anchors is concerned as three female anchors have filed an application with the information ministry accusing Director Current Affairs Agha Masood Shorash of sexual advances and attempts.

PTV management is learned to have formed an inquiry committee under the command of PTV News Head Imran Meer while members of the committee include Deputy Managing Director Shahid Nadeem and General Manager/Director News Khalaq Sargana. The committee has recorded the statements of the applicants and the accused but is yet to finalize its findings.

Informed sources confirmed that applicants have also had a meeting with the information minister, Qamar uz Zaman Kaira, who then asked the PTV management to look into this matter seriously and sort this out.

This is the third such inquiry held against the officiating Director Current Affairs, Agha Masood Shorash in the past couple of years. Interestingly, Shorash has always come out unscathed from all the previous inquiries, because all inquiries were held while he was still in-charge of the current affairs department.

Sources privy to the on-going investigations reveal that management is trying to bury the matter fearing that it will open floodgates of complaints from the female staff against the top management. While others believe that since certain rightist groups are backing the Director, management is under immense pressure to somehow compensate the complainants and get over with the matter. Since the applicants are all known female anchors and have journalistic background, therefore, management is trying to use backdoor channels to sort out the mess.
Omer Farooq Khan, TNN 25 September 2009, 04:32pm IST

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