Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just Some Of The King's Men and Women (Updated)

This has already taken social media and even many television stations by storm. I am placing this here mainly for the record.

Remember that 2-hour 'Dunya TV Special' yesterday where Meher Bokhari and Mubasher Lucman conducted a joint 'grilling' of property tycoon Malik Riaz, currently at the centre of what has been variously termed 'Bahriagate' and 'Familygate'? Well, here are the behind-the-scenes from that marathon that some conscientous soul at Dunya has put up on the net for all to see. You need to watch this if you haven't already, trust me. After this, only an idiot could possibly take Pakistan's 'investigative' television media seriously.

Part 1:

Part 2:

So, basically we find out the following things:

1. This was a total set-up of an interview, with planted questions.

2. Malik Riaz is not only told the questions before-hand, he is fed some of the answers too and prompted by the intrepid interviewers to say things he might have forgot to mention.

3. The Prime Minister's son Abdul Qadir Gilani is in the know and involved, as are the Sharif brothers in a slightly different way.

4. There are instructions from Dunya TV management 'not to interrupt' Malik Riaz, even if it means going over time. Obviously, Dunya TV is more beholden to him than anyone could have guessed.

5. There actually were plenty of ego-clashes between the Bokhari and Lucman, even more than what was visible on air yesterday, over how much time each was getting to ask their questions. At one point, Malik Riaz tries to placate them both by telling them that they should put aside their squabbles because this programme is a matter of life or death for him. Meher tells Lucman to "be professional." You are allowed to laugh.

6. Other than providing an unembarrassed and shameless platform to someone well known for buying off the media in the shape of a fake 'grilling', the main thrust of the interviewers is to clear their own names as people bought off by Malik Riaz by throwing up smokescreens of asking hard-hitting questions. "Do you want to clear our names here?" asks Bokhari of Lucman while trying to decide the schedule of questions.

I don't really think you're going to ever clear your names after this, Ms Bokhari and Mr Lucman. Same goes for Dunya TV and its politician owner Mian Aamir Mahmood for that matter.

: : : Update : : :

1. For those who cannot understand the Urdu, here is a good summary of the videos.

2. According to Dunya TV sources, Mubasher Lucman has either been 'suspended' or fired for saying during the show that he was being pressurised to do the show by Mian Aamir Mahmood and Malik Riaz.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Seeing Red (Updated)

The entire country seems to be seized with the issue of whether dual nationality holders should be allowed to hold public office in Pakistan. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case against four Peoples Party parliamentarians including the President's media adviser Farahnaz Ispahani, whose National Assembly membership has been temporarily suspended by the court on prima facie evidence that she is also an American citizen. The Punjab Assembly has tried to weasel its way out of the same criteria being applied to its members by saying it has no record of which of its members are dual nationality holders. I'm not here to discuss the merits and contradictions of this issue, so if you can please leave that outrage for another time...

What I'm really here to share, however, is an explosive little story that a little tweety bird with impeccable credentials has divulged to us (what, you think only Najam Sethi has mysterious chirryas?).

If you recall, a certain Interior Minister, is among those accused of holding dual British nationality. That he had taken British citizenship while in self-exile from the mid-90s till he returned in 2007 is not even denied by him. He recently made a statement in the Supreme Court (through his lawyer) that he had renounced his UK citizenship in April 2008, upon assuming office in Pakistan and had presented some documents attesting to his claim upon his recent return from a working visit to the UK. (Incidentally, the Supreme Court rejected the documents as insufficient proof of his renunciation.)

 Not quite green (or blue)

Guess what our tweety bird has told us? The colour of the passport the Interior Minister used to travel to the UK - just a few days ago - was distinctly not green or blue (the Pakistani official passport). Those who laid eyes on it say they saw a very British red. Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to reveal our source but what we will confirm clearly is that our tweety bird - which is more than 100 percent sure of its facts - is definitely not of the 'intelligence' variety.

It's one thing to be dheet and a liar. But this just sounds to us like the ultimate in pragmatic stupidity as well.

: : : UPDATE : : :

After this post was put up, a number of people wrote in on Twitter and in the comments to say that the Pakistani diplomatic passport is also red (or maroon) and that while senators and other government officials are issued a blue offical passport, all cabinet members (as the Interior Minister is) are issued a diplomatic passport. The implication was that perhaps our tweety bird had mistaken the colour of the diplomatic passport for the British passport. Senator Rehman Malik himself aslo tweeted that it had been "mischievously reported" that he had used a British passport whereas he had used only his "red diplomatic passport."

The doubt is understandable since in my write-up I had only referred to the colour of the passport, even though our source had not based the information on simply that. Nevertheless we have re-checked with our source to make doubly sure and the tweety bird confirms that it was in fact a British passport, not a Pakistani diplomatic passport. We thus stand by our story.