Dr Shahid Masood is well known anchor and TV analyst. He has worked with almost all the leading news channels of the country. Dr.Shahid Masood has landed in troubled waters for making baseless, fabricated and false claims in Zainab murder case. He made 14 claims and allegations in one of his program on news one channel. These allegations and claims shocked the whole nation. His program gained the highest rating and became the most watched news show for couple of days. He appealed to the Chief Justice and Army Chief to take notice of his claims and investigate the matter.
The Chief Justice took sou moto notice and asked Dr.Shahid to appear before the honourable Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court he insisted that his claims are based on the facts and should be investigated. The Supreme Court formed a JIT to probe the allegations. The JIT submitted its report in the Supreme Court and dismissed all claims and allegations as fabricated, baseless and contrary to facts.
Supreme Court gave an opportunity to Dr. Shahid to withdraw his allegations and apologised to the court. But he refused to do so. Even all the senior journalists and anchors present in the court advised him to apologise to the court and don’t press his allegations. Dr. Shahid tried to distance himself from the claims and allegations, he made after the JIT report but Supreme Court refused to end the proceedings and decided to proceed against DR. Shahid. He is facing a possible ban on his program. Supreme Court might also take some other measures to discourage the spread of fake news and distorted facts.
Dr. Shahid Masood cannot blame others for finding himself in this difficult situation. He himself invited trouble. There is no such tradition or mechanism in the news channels to check and verify the news and facts before airing unconfirmed content. It is high time for such anchors and analysts to mend their ways and indulge in serious journalism.
This is not the first time that Dr.Shahid made such false and fabricated claims. He was the one who made headlines when he alleged that renowned senior journalist and analyst Najam Sethi rigged elections in 35 constituencies of Punjab for PML-N while he was interim Chief Minister of Punjab during the 2013 general elections. This claim was known as 35 punctures. PTI leader Imran Khan made this claim part of his rigging narrative. But when judicial commission consisting of Supreme Court judges asked Imran Khan to prove the 35 puncture story, he declared it political statement. Dr. Shahid Masood repeatedly insisted that his story and claim is true and based on facts but never appeared before the judicial commission to prove his story.
He repeatedly targeted leading politicians and aired misleading and factious stories against them. He maligned many politicians with factious and fabricated stories. The defamation laws are not strong enough to punish such people who openly and deliberately spread fake news and opinion and tarnish the image of a person. The people like, Dr. Shahid, DR. Amir Liaqat, Mubashar Luqman, Sabir Shakir and many more take advantage of this situation and spread lies, fabricated and planted stories and claims on daily basis. There is no check and balances exist in the media outlets to make these liars accountable. This trend to make their wishes, emotions and personal thoughts as analysis and news should be discouraged by journalist community and owners of the media houses.
The question is why the news one channel allows Dr. Shahid to continue his program even after confessing the fact that he has no proof of his claims and allegations. Why the PBA (Pakistan Broad casting Association) has failed to implement the code of conduct for the anchors and analysts. The media owners have the right to make their editorial policy. They have every right to like or dislike anybody. But they have no right to spread false and fake news and distorted facts. It is their responsibility to discourage this trend. Dr. Shahid is not the only one who indulges in this practice for years. There are lot of others who are doing the same. They should try their best to get the highest ratings but this should not be done on the basis of lies, distortions and fiction.
The people like Dr. Shahid, Amir Liaqat and others should not be used to malign the journalist community and media in general. The growth of electronic media and that of private news channels give rise to many anchors and analysts in Pakistan since 2002. Many unknown reporters, political commentators and columnists become household name and celebrities after joining the news channels. The news channels produced excellent anchors and analysts likes of Talaat Hussain, Hamid Mir, Kashif Abbasi, Nusrat Javed, Fahad Hussain, Saleem Safi, Asma Sherazi, Ayaz Amir, Sohail Warraich, Iftikhar Ahmad, Mujahid Barelvi, Arif Nizami, Haroon Rashid, Waseem Badami and many others. Many young anchors and analysts join the news channels and made name for promoting the serious journalism.
Pakistan has produced journalists par excellence. They set high standards of professionalism and integrity. They promoted democratic and progressive traditions and culture in the society. Pakistani progressive and left wing journalists remained on the frontlines of struggles against dictatorships. The journalists fought alongside with workers, peasants and students for democratic, labour and political rights.
The Pakistani journalists faced state repression, imprisonment and even flogged to silence them. But they fought courageously and with determination. They earn respect, dignity and honour for their principled journalism. Minhaj Berna, Nisar Usmani, Zaheer Kashmiri, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Munnu Bhai, Khawar Naeem Hashmi, Hameed Chapra and many others lost jobs but refused to bow down.
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