Dr. Shahid Masood, a well-known anchor of private news channels was arrested by FIA from the premises of Islamabad High Court few days ago on corruption charges. He was accused of being involved in the embezzlement of Rs38 million (3.8 crores) from state-run broadcaster Pakistan Television. He served as Managing director of PTV during the PPP government.
According to the prosecution, Dr Shahid Masood had signed an agreement with a fake company to negotiate with the Pakistan Cricket Board for grant of rights to the state owned PTV for coverage of cricket matches played in Pakistan when he was the MD of PTV. Because of the agreement, the PTV had to face heavy financial losses.
Dr. Shahid Masood appeared before the Islamabad High court to get the bail. But PTV‘s lawyer, Mohammad Nazeer Jawad, told the court that Kashif Rabbani was also a suspect in the case, however, he had returned more than Rs10m after his bail was denied. Another suspect, Roshan Mustafa Gillani, also returned Rs8m. Both Rabbani and Gillani had said that the remaining amount was to be returned by TV anchor Shahid Masood. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge dismissed the anchor’s appeal for a pre-arrest bail.
An Islamabad district court had issued non-bail able arrest warrants for the anchor. However, Shahid Masood had obtained an interim bail. Last month, a special court had rejected his plea for confirmation of interim pre-arrest bail. A few days later, the TV anchor had challenged his arrest warrant in the IHC.
The FIA accused him for not cooperating in the investigation. The FIA sought the warrants, saying that Masood had been asked several times to join the investigation in connection with the case. “However, he deliberately avoided to join the investigation,” a request signed by FIA Investigation Officer (IO) Kashir Riaz Awan read.The FIA claimed to have irrefutable evidence in its possession to further investigate the case and to recover the amount.
Dr. Shahid got lot of attention and publicity for airing controversial stories and allegations. He made sensational allegations against Punjab government of PML-N and the main accused in the Zainab rape and murder case. The Supreme Court took notice of his claims and asked him to prove them. But he failed to prove any one of them before a JIT. He averted possible punishment and arrest from Supreme Court. On many previous occasions, he averted a possible punishment for making false, baseless and fabricated allegations against politiciations and judges.
According to the Herald magazine, “that these stories – and many others that Shahid Masood has told over the years in his shows – have been proven false, fabricated and without any basis whatsoever has done little to dent his reputation as a much watched and followed talk show host. He has 507,000 followers on Twitter, his show on News One has a Facebook following of 172,493 and one of his two unofficial Facebook pages is followed by 164,678 people. If nothing else, these followers ensure that any news he peddles stays alive in some form or shape in some corner of the media”.
Shahid Masood has faced much worse in the past. In his BOL News show on January 24, 2017, he alleged that two ministers – one who then handled the finance department and the other who at the time looked after the defense department – were summoned to the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, and given a shut-up call for implicating the military leadership in political and judicial developments around the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s trial over his allegedly illegal offshore properties revealed by the Panama Papers.
Ishaq Dar, one of the two ministers, moved the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), which banned Masood’s show for 30 days and imposed a fine of one million rupees on the television channel for airing baseless allegations “with the malafide and ulterior motives of attacking the integrity of the federal minister”.
His show was also suspended in 2016 for 45 days after he accused the then Sindh High Court chief justice, Sajjad Ali Shah, of taking bribes. He alleged that the judge’s failure to honour a commitment made to his alleged benefactors had led to the kidnapping of his son.
The mouth fowled anchor was use to give long lectures and bastions in his news show against corruption, nepotism and misuse of authority. He always posed himself as a crusader and lone warrior against the corruption and corrupt mafia.
But now he himself got arrested on the same corruption charges. He cannot claim that he has been victimised because he supported the PTI and was happy on the formation of PTI government. He could have easily blamed the PML-N or PPP government for victimisation as he was a vocal critique of both governments. But he cannot say the same about PTI government.
Finally, he faced humiliation on the corruption charges and arrested for not cooperating in the investigation. Like the past, he thought that he is above the law and untouchable for low ranking officials of FIA. But this time he underestimated the seriousness of the matter. So he got the treatment that he really deserved.
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17 November, 2019