ICIJ in the dock over Jang group’s shoddy reporting: Dr Fiza Akbar
KARACHI: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) broke the biggest scandal in journalism’s history by publishing the Pandora Papers, but in Pakistan a section of the media put forward unfounded allegations against some individuals, while many names were kept under the wraps, Dr Fiza Akbar, Bol News’ primetime anchorperson, said in her programme ‘Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga.’
She said in one of her programme segments that a number of local news channels, and newspapers distorted the ICIJ’s report and its facts, and played up half-baked information.
Around 700 Pakistanis were shown owning offshore companies in the Pandora Papers, but the local media did not share any details about many of them, Dr Akbar said.
The Pandora Papers showed that rich and powerful, and politically-connected individuals from 200 countries own 29,000 offshore companies. Many Pakistani citizens, politicians, soldiers and business tycoons have been named in the ICIJ expose, some may be true, but others may not.
Dr Fiza Akbar said that the problem was not with the ICIJ, but with their representatives in Pakistan, who provided incorrect information and leaked it to some of the media and business tycoons in advance so that they may take measures to avoid the fallout of the Pandora Papers.
The two Jang Group employees — Umar Cheema and Fakhar Durrani — who worked with the ICIJ shared their investigations with their employer in advance, she said.
Cheema is a controversial reporter, who often remains under fire because of incorrect stories and peddling fake news. Both Cheema and Durrani, provided flawed information to the ICIJ at the behest of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, who is also the owner, according to Dr Fiza Akbar.
Cheema in an interview to a private news channel admitted that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman did own offshore companies, but in the same breath he became an advocate of his employer, revealing that he took the approval of his boss before forwarding the names to ICIJ, she said quoting his interview.
She said that it remains a rule in journalism that the point-of-view of a person, on whom allegations are being made, must be included in the story. But Cheema and Durrani failed to do so in the case of many individuals named in the ICIJ report, while they did manage to take the version of their employer.
This conduct has irreparably damaged the ICIJ reputation and raised questions about its report, she said.
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