Monday, June 28, 2010

The Continuing Saga of Sardar Khan

Remember this controversy involving Voice of America (VoA) reporter Sardar Khan and the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa in April?

Well, it's not over yet. Not by a long mile strewn with billions of rupees. The following email has been sent round on a journalists' email group, modeled as a press release, along with links to the two recordings hosted on Youtube which we are including below.


Ayaz Gul, Razi Rizvi, Kokab Farshori, Jennifer Janin and Dawn group among defendants.

"Thursday, 26th June, 2010: Sardar Khan, a renowned sports journalist and reporter and formally an employee of the Voice of America, has filed a civil suit for Damages to the tune of Rs1380.3 Million. in the High Court of Sindh, Karachi against Asif Bajwa, Secretary General PHF, Pakistan Hockey Federation, Broadcasting Board of Governors (VOA), Ms.Jennifer Janine, Head of Urdu Service, Voice of America, Ayaz Gul, Director/Co-ordinator/Manager Urdu radio/TV Operations Pakistan, Voice of America Islamabad Bureau, Mr. Razi Rizvi and Kokab Farshori, both managing editors in Washington and Pakistan Herald Publications, alongwith its employees Rishad Mahmood and Shazia Hassan, for interalia, defaming him in a number of reports/articles published in the daily Dawn. Mr. Khan has claimed that the Secretary of the PHF Asif Bajwa had lied to a reporter of the daily Dawn, namely Ms. Shazia Hasan, about Mr. Khan twisting his interview. Mr. Khan reported an ( audio recorded) interview of Mr. Bajwa, aired on the VOA on the 14.4.2010, where in Asif Bajwa was quoted to have said that Pakistan Hockey Team's loss to Poland in the World Cup Qualifying Match in 2009 was a part of a plan and strategy, so that Pakistan could play Japan instead of France in the final. Mr. Bajwa, the very next day i.e. the 15.4.2010, while talking to reporter Shazia Hasan, said that Khan lied and twisted his interview. It was on the basis of this interview that Ayaz Gul reported the matter to Washington, and on who's report Jennifer Janine took action and terminated the Plaintiff's services from the VOA. Mr. Khan in the text of his Plaint has contended that he did not twist Asif Bajwa's interview and reported it as it was, without any additions or subtractions. Along with the Plaint he has annexed transcripts of Bajwa's interview and also a conversation(that is also audio recorded) that the two had before the interview, in which Asif Bajwa also made bribe offers to the reporter. Mr. Khan has also contended that his termination was arbitrary and capricious and that Ayaz Gul had conspired with M/s. Razi A. Rizvi and Kokab Farshori, the two managing editors in VOA Washington (also impleaded as defendants in the civil suit) to misquote his interview, to Jennifer Janine who does not know Urdu, even though she is the head of the Urdu Service at the Voice of America. Mr. Khan also contended that the report of Dawn dated 15.4.2010 was malicious on account of the fact that only Bajwa's interview was reported and Mr. Khan's point of view was not even sought on the baseless allegations made by Asif Bajwa to Dawn. After his termination from VOA, Jennifer Janine wrote a letter to Bajwa apologizing for the story aired by VOA on the 14.4.2010 and also informed him that Sardar Khan was no longer working for her organization due to his alleged distortion of the interview. Mr. Khan has contended that this apology was given without Bajwa or the Pakistan Hockey Federation ever asking for the same. This apology was forwarded by Bajwa to all media houses in the country and internationally, and printed by Dawn in its edition of 24.4.2010. This was done, as per the contents of the Plaint, despite the fact that Sardar Khan, besides providing the audio recording of Bajwa's interview, had brought to the notice of Rishad Mahmood and Shazia Hasan through his letter dated 15.4.2010, that Bajwa had lied in his interview to them. Mr. Sardar Khan has contended, with the support of a large amount of annexures, that his previous employers (VOA), Asif Bajwa and the Herald Publications have acted maliciously and unprofessionally and defamed him thus causing harm to his reputation. Dr. Mohammad Farogh Nasim has filed the suit on behalf of Sardar Khan."

Now, of course, we have no intention on commenting on the substance of the allegations and the lawsuit. But it might be instructive for readers to listen in on the two audio recordings linked with the email to make up their own minds on the matter. One of these is the apparent original phone conversation (I say apparent because we are not in a position to check the authenticity of the recording) between Bajwa and Sardar Khan at the centre of the controversy. (Recall that the controversy revolved around whether Bajwa had actually said that Pakistan deliberately threw a match against lowly ranked Poland - as Sardar Khan reported on VoA - or whether Bajwa's words had been misrepresented by the reporter - as claimed by Bajwa, Dawn and eventually VoA. The text of Sardar Khan's written report - the original report was a radio report that is no longer available on the VoA site - is in the original post, linked to a the top.)

Some of Bajwa's claims are certainly enough to raise an eyebrow. However, does he actually admit to having purposely lost the match? Without having heard the original radio report that Sardar Khan did for VoA, it is impossible to tell if he had indeed misrepresented Bajwa's words. If Sardar Khan's written report can be taken as representative of his audio report (and it is possible that it cannot), in it he had claimed:

"Asif Bajwa, in an exclusive interview to Voice of America (VOA) has made the shocking disclosure that Pakistan lost its league match to Poland purposely in world cup qualifying tournament (WQC) held in Lille as part of strategy to avoid hosts France in the final."

You can make up your own mind if this is a technically correct representation of what Bajwa had said.

Meanwhile, the second recording is one in which it is claimed that Bajwa attempted to bribe Khan before the interview:

With regards to this recording, all we can say is that perhaps Mr Khan and his lawyers have some other evidence of Bajwa attempting to bribe the reporter and how that may affect the substance of the allegations against him. Personally, however, I don't understand how this recording is what it claims to be, since there is never actually anything offered. All Bajwa does here is to try to win the reporter over to be more sympathetic to him.

In any case, watch this space for further developments. When over 1.3 billion rupees is involved (don't ask me how), you know it's not a matter to be decided in a flash.


Anonymous said...

Mr Bajwa is clearly saying in the first audio clip (1.00 to 1.18) that losing match to Poland was a strategy which he couldn't disclose. And that they would have to play against France had they won against Poland, a scenario which he wanted to avoid.

In the second clip, Mr Bajwa is trying to win over the reporter. He didn't offer bribe but it's evident from his conversation that he wanted some deal or to say truce. What Mr Bajwa seemed to be trying was to make the reporter put his price tag.

This is the way journalists especially reporters are offered bribes.

Writers of this blog seem newsroom junkies who don't have any idea of how diificult is reporters' job. And the post smells as CPM has a soft corner for Mr Bajwa.

Anonymous said...

The "strategy" sounds more like their going into the match with junior players while resting the seniors for the final as they had already reached the final and didn't find the encounter with Poland significant enough.

The reporter could have said something like, "evading the question, Mr Bajwa said ..." NOT what he did report which was, "Asif Bajwa, in an exclusive interview to Voice of America (VOA) has made the shocking disclosure that Pakistan lost its league match to Poland purposely in world cup qualifying tournament (WQC) held in Lille as part of strategy to avoid hosts France in the final." It has clearly been misreported.

As for the other one about being offered bribe, well, it sounds like Mr Bajwa is only asking him what his problem with him is while trying to make an effort to clear whatever misunderstandings he may have harboured against him, that's all.

If this reporter, Sardar Khan, has some real evidence of being offered bribe, he should put up that recording on You Tube, not this one. It really seems like he is in a world of his own as none of the recordings have what he claims.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I couldn't help but notice that the date on the email sent round on the journalist's group is also wrong. June 26, 2010 was not "THURSDAY". It seems like this reporter Sardar Khan is an expert of distorting things.

Anonymous said...

XYZ, CPM and others ... I know i can right click and open in a new window myself ... but it would be great if you guys make sure links open in new windows by default .. Please no offence just a suggestion .. it gets to be a drag sometimes.

Anonymous said...

According to my 20 years experiance in the field of news and media Mr Asif Bajwa is trying to save his seat.
I dont known when pakistan cabinet hire the good and sincere people who love only pakistan not wealth.