What a parliament that is silent!

KARACHI: A Jang Group spokesman said on Wednesday that an advertisement headlined “For God’s sake help us dear parliamentarians” has been appearing on the front pages of The News and Jang for two consecutive days and the editorial staff of the Jang Group has also contacted the heads, other leaders, senators and MNAs of almost all the political parties requesting them to raise the issue of Geo’s closure for more than four-and-a-half months. They were also told that Rs5 billion losses have been incurred by the Group, and it is becoming impossible to pay salaries to the staff and that Geo will be shut down any day.

The spokesman said the Group has so far been paying salaries on its own but it now has no more capacity. He said we have to make payments to the banks, pay utility bills. Salaries of the staff are being delayed.

The parliamentarians were asked to form a committee to oversee and probe the issue and find out who was behind the illegal closure of Geo. The ad also mentions this, and it was also verbally conveyed that the Group can prove who is behind the closure of Geo. Written complaints were made to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), letters were written to the prime minister and information minister, and it was also conveyed verbally that the Supreme Court, Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court have termed Geo’s closure illegal and ordered its restoration but the government is powerless.

Journalists’ organisations were also approached but they also did not talk because of fear. This is a violation of the fundamental right of freedom of information. The spokesman said the Rs20 million fine was unprecedented. History has no such example. One channel was closed for a month and the other for 15 days. Pemra’s decision was ex-parte but we accepted it.

The spokesman said we (ISI) are behind this. He said army chief General Raheel Sharif, ISI chief General Zahir-ul-Islam and DG ISPR know these things. The Group and its senior editors have tried to contact them but all remained in vain and nobody listened to them. We sent messages but got no response. A letter was also written to the PM, information minister and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.

The spokesman told Parliamentarians that if they were pro-democracy, they should have kept democracy’s respect. They have been witnessing this game for months. They should have raised it in the assemblies and formed the committee and called the responsible persons of Jang Group, ISI, ISPR, Pemra and Ministry of Information. He said the Group responsibles have proofs. The committee should have called them and asked from them what they are faced with.

The spokesman said it is said that on Tuesday when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was addressing the joint parliamentary session, Nawaz Sharif asked him to mention Geo. The fact is that the government, the PM and all ministers have not enough courage to raise the issue of Geo. He said Senator Zahid mustered courage and we are thankful to him.

The spokesman said the parliamentarians ought to disprove allegations by Imran and Qadri that Parliament is a week institution. Parliament should conduct full probe and get the Geo restored. If this was not done, it would mean that Imran and Qadri had rightly said that parliamentarians are part of a failed system and are sitting in the House to save their interests. The spokesman said it will be written in history. “Though we are a private commercial Group, we have enough courage to give this statement.” You are answerable to God. If justice was not done, the Jang Group staff from all over Pakistan along with their families will stage sit-in and go on hunger strike in front of ISI office and Parliament.

The spokesman said death threats are also being hurled to some of the responsibles of the Group who are outside the country. If any loss of life occurred, Parliament will be responsible for it.

The spokesman said there are court decisions and everybody, including the government, knows what is being done with the Group. This is a big sin and grave injustice that a legal thing is not being done knowingly.

The intermediaries give us messages that we should show by doing or by refraining from doing something, then your restoration will be considered.He said the Group has proofs in which it is being said to sell 35% to 50% shares of the Group. The chief is being said to leave the Group. We will appoint chief executive and editor. Then we will see for sometime that the Group is being run rightly.

The spokesman said money is also being demanded for solution of the problem. It is being said to spend Rs200-250 million. All these things are being said through intermediaries who are authentic.

The spokesman said there is a complete story behind what is happening. This story can be told to the chief justice and judges in closed-door hearing, he said.The spokesman said international journalist organisations and world media has raised this issue. World renowned media has written that one of the reasons for civil-military tension in Pakistan is the Geo issue. It should be clear that Jang Group has repeatedly said that it not only respects but loves the Armed Forces of Pakistan. The Armed Forces have given sacrifices for the country and Jang Group is proud of those who have laid down their lives for the sake of nation.

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