Here's the story as it appeared in the evening's 9 o' clock news. Watch from 05:42.
So why was I surprised? Because I had read the news item the Geo report was snarkily referring to and condemning, and it was no Indian media where I had read it. In fact, it was an exclusive report on Sunday in Geo's sister Jang Group concern, The News. This is what The News' credible sports reporter Khalid Hussain had published a day earlier:
"Just a couple of days after ‘spot-fixing’ allegations were levelled at him and two other Pakistan players, a teary-eyed Mohammad Amir went to the team management and spilled the beans on Salman Butt — Pakistan’s Test captain. Sources told ‘The News’ on Saturday that the 18-year-old fast bowler told team manager Yawar Saeed and Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s one-day captain, that he was innocent and just got involved in the scandal because of Salman Butt.
According to the sources, some of Pakistan’s senior players saw Amir meeting with Afridi. The allrounder later took the youngster to Yawar Saeed and three discussed the issue for some time at the team hotel. “Amir told the team management that he wasn’t aware of the gravity of the situation and also claimed that he just followed Butt’s instructions,” said a well-placed source.…Sources said that Amir told Afridi and Yawar that he didn’t even know Mazhar Majeed and was introduced to him by Salman Butt. “Amir told Afridi as well as the team manager that he was completely unaware of what was going on. He asked them to help him get out of the mess,” said the source."
Why on earth would Geo pretend it was an Indian media report? And why would they attack and undercut their own group's newspaper report? Was this some bizarre decision to spin a damaging report (and if so, on whose prompting)? Or did it mean that nobody at Geo bothers to read even their own group's newspapers?
The sarcastic report continued to be broadcast all evening and soon other channels - such as Express - also picked up the thread and joined in. The next morning, Geo Super in its own sports headlines too began to attack Indian media for its biases and even showed the offending report in the Times of India (TOI, incidentally, the Jang Group's partner in the floundering Amn Ki Asha project).
A screen-grab of the Times of India report
The TOI report is actually a Press Trust of India (PTI) wire agency report. And then the penny dropped for me (only partially though, as you will see later). Illiterate oafs that Geo sports editors are, I surmised, they had obviously either not read Khalid Hussain's exclusive or failed to connect the fact that the PTI report was probably simply picking up the report in The News.
But there was a problem: even though the PTI report was obviously written more than
Here is the original PTI wire report with all its header info intact (which a source has kindly provided us):
Aamir's shocker: Butt lured me into spot-fixing, Saeed resigns
Karachi, Sep 27 (PTI) Barely five days after the end of their scandal-hit tour of England, fresh turmoil today gripped the Pakistan cricket team with suspended pacer Mohammad Aamir's shocking revelation that he was lured into spot-fixing by Test skipper Salman Butt.On a day when team manager Yawar Saeed stepped down from his post, the Pakistan Cricket Board was left to do more firefighting in the spot-fixing scandal with the latest revelation.The 18-year-old left-arm pacer was suspended by the ICC for his alleged involvement in spot-fixing during the fourth Test against England at Lord's last month, along with Butt and Mohammad Asif.Sources in the PCB said Aamir had told chairman Ijaz Butt that he never wanted to be part of this "business" (spot fixing) but was forced into it by Butt and Asif."Aamir had gone to Butt and claimed he was innocent and a victim of the "seniors power lobby" in the team," a source told PTI.But the PCB refuted the reports with legal adviser Tafazzul Rizvi saying that the implicated players continue to claim innocence."All three boys have been saying all along that they did not do anything wrong and they stand by it. They claim innocence and complete innocence and nothing but innocence. We are holding our investigations back at the moment and we are waiting for the Scotland Yard's investigation report," he said.Another source revealed that Aamir, regarded as one of Pakistan cricket's most promising young talent, had told Saeed about the pressure being exerted on him by Butt."Aamir's claim is that he just did what he was told to do. He is claiming innocence now and says he didn't even know Mazhar Majeed was introduced to him by Butt and Asif," the source said.Quite a few former Test captains, and even Pakistan's former President, Pervez Musharraf, have urged the ICC to show leniency towards Aamir, all of 18 and the quickest to take 50 wickets in Test cricket.But chief selector Mohsin Khan said that he didn't agree with the viewpoint that Aamir should be shown leniency because of his age."I don't buy this argument because if you can do something wrong at 18, you can keep on doing it later as well. If these three players are found guilty they should be punished, including Aamir," Mohsin said.The chief selector insisted that no cricketer was indispensable and there should be no compromise on discipline and commitment towards your team and country."Aamir must be punished if he is guilty. I just hope that that these three are eventually cleared because they have already damaged the reputation of Pakistan cricket and the country," Mohsin said. PTI CORR AH PM MRM PDS09271847
First of all, note that the report was filed in the evening of September 27th (at 1847 hours, as evidenced from the filing time at the bottom), whereas Hussain's story was obviously written on September
Secondly, note that whereas Khalid Hussain's piece cites specifics of Amir's confession, the PTI story does not and only cites "PCB sources", one of whom (the legal counsel) actually completely contradicts the assertions. As it is, the only possible sources of Hussain's story, as is obvious from the specifics of the report itself, could be only either Amir, Shahid Afridi or Yawar Saeed, which give it far more credibility. Our sources confirm that Hussain's source was, in fact, Afridi himself. The PTI story, on the other hand, seems to have been an unethical plagiarism of Hussain's story, further embellished and distorted to seem like an original piece of reporting.
But it gets far more interesting. Please note that the dateline on the PTI story is Karachi. That is to say, this report was not "concocted" in India, but rather written / "concocted" by PTI's correspondent in Karachi. So a Pakistani journalist actually wrote the PTI story but yet Geo attacked the Indian media for making up stories about Pakistan cricket. That's not the end of the bizarreness. According to our extremely well-informed sources, guess who moonlights as the PTI's sports correspondent in Karachi? The venerable sports reporter Waheed Khan, that's who.
Waheed Khan on a Geo Super programme
Waheed Khan was not only Karachi sports editor Khalid Hussain's predecessor at The News but is also currently a senior staffer at Geo Super and apparently responsible for the content of Geo Super's bulletins. (Incidentally, Khan also covers sports for Reuters but the story never ran on that wire agency.) He is one of the 'big guns' of sports journalism in Pakistan and has done some stellar reporting work in the past, especially during the match-fixing saga of the 1990s. It seems, however, that this time his professional jealousy at Hussain's exclusive seems to have got the better of him. According to sources, he and Hussain are not on the best of terms either, mainly because Khan has been attempting to get a foothold again at The News as well, which would impact Hussain's position.
So, in effect, a Jang Group staffer first (surreptitiously) put out an "exclusive" that, in all probability, was simply an embellishment on another Jang Group staffer's real exclusive (even if it was not, it wasn't an exclusive by any stretch of the imagination since it had been beaten to the finish line by more than 24 hours). And when that faux exclusive was picked up in the most roundabout way by his own Jang Group organization (which obviously does not bother to read Jang Group newspapers), he helped or at least supervised its on-air demolition on Jang Group channels as an example of a fabricated story by Indian sources.
If that doesn't make your head spin, I don't know what will.