ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s most popular and most loved media group Geo and Jang Group has served a legal notice on the Ministry of Defence, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for defaming and maligning the group by accusing it of working on an anti-Pakistan agenda, inciting and fuelling violence against the group, pressuring cable operators to black out Geo channels, the failure of Pemra to get the Supreme Court order to restore Geo channels implemented, and has asked all to publicly apologise within 14 days and pay damages of Rs50 billion.
In its legal notice, the group — which played a role in the Pakistan Movement, in the creation of Pakistan and came into existence much before these institutions — has alleged that because of the uncalled for, baseless allegations of being traitors and furthering an anti-Pakistan agenda, more than 8,000 journalists, workers and professionals attached to the group and their families are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.
Geo and the Jang Group have served the notice on the Federation of Pakistan and the ISI through the Ministry of Defence and on Pemra and have demanded that all must publicly apologise to the group and all its workers and their families for levelling absolutely baseless, wrong and shameful allegations without any proof and endangering the lives of thousands of professionals attached with the group.
The lawyers of the Geo and Jang group have made it clear in categorical and the strongest terms in the legal notice served on the ISI and Pemra that the group shall initiate appropriate legal proceedings against all of them in a court of competent jurisdiction for direct damage to repute caused to their clients (Geo and Jang Group and its workers) and also actual losses that they are suffering on a daily basis.
The legal notice served by Geo and the Jang Group on the Ministry of Defence, ISI and Pemra on June 5, 2014 reads;“Legal notice under section 8 of defamation ordinance, 2002.”“We, on behalf and instructions of the Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited (IMC), Independent Newspaper Corporation (Pvt) Limited (INCL), News Publications (Pvt) Limited (NPL), Independent Music Group (Pvt) Limited (IMG), (hereinafter referred to as ‘our clients’) are writing to address you as follows:
“1. That together all our clients along with dozens of other companies from the ‘Jang/Geo Group’, the leading electronic and print media group of Pakistan broadcasting TV channels with the highest rating namely ‘Geo News’, ‘Geo Entertainment’, ‘Geo Tez’, ‘Geo Kahani’ and ‘Geo Super’. The Jang Group also publishes newspapers having the widest circulation in Pakistan namely “Daily Jang” and “The News”.
“2. That our clients are actively involved in the field of journalism, making and broadcasting national/international news, articles, interviews, mega events and current affairs and are considered as the most reliable sources of information by the public at large and enjoy an incontrovertible, overwhelming, unequivocal and an unparalleled reputation both at the national and international level.
“3. That on 19.4.2014, one of the leading columnists and anchorpersons of Pakistan, Hamid Mir, who is associated with our clients, was attacked in Karachi. In the environment of extreme tension and under tremendous pressure of the family of Hamid Mir, our clients’ channel Geo News broadcast a statement of Hamid Mir’s brother Amir Mir.
“4. That subsequent to the above, ISI sent a complaint to the Ministry of Defence which without even providing any evidence/proof, contained baseless and untrue allegations that “Geo Network has a history of acting illegally in furtherance of anti Pakistan agenda.”
“5. That upon receipt of the complaint of ISI, the Ministry of Defence immediately without verification of the allegations levelled in it, forwarded the said complaint containing the allegations regarding our clients having a history of acting on an anti-Pakistan agenda, as it is, to Pemra seeking immediate suspension and cancellation of Geo News’ licence.
“6. That after receiving the above complaints from the ISI through the Ministry of Defence, Pemra too, without seeking any proof/evidence of anti-Pakistani activities of our clients, issued a show cause notice to our clients, accusing them of being involved in anti-Pakistan activities.
“7. That the show-cause notice of Pemra was distributed all over Pakistan including the media of Pakistan that has caused great reputational loss to our clients.
“8. That despite our clients’ various requests to the ISI, the Ministry of Defence and Pemra to provide them evidence on the basis of which such a heinous allegation was levelled by them against our clients, no proof/evidence has been provided to them so far.
“9. That all of you have thus defamed our clients by levelling such false statements to injure their reputation, to lower them in the estimation of others and to reduce them to ridicule, unjust criticism, dislike, contempt or hatred against which this statutory notice is being served to all of you.
“10. That in addition to the reputational loss that our clients have suffered at your hands, this false and malicious allegation due to the current tense political situation in the country, was deliberately aimed at provoking and inciting the masses to engage in physical violence against our clients and thousands of their employees including journalists, putting all their lives at serious risk. You have succeeded in achieving the purpose of the false allegations as soon after having levelled them a smear campaign against our clients has also been started on the ground that our clients are traitors/anti-Pakistan.
“11. That due to your illegal threats and pressure on the cable operators of the country, they first shuffled/showed on last number of the spectrum, the transmission of our clients’ channels, ‘Geo News’, ‘Geo Entertainment’, ‘Geo Kahani’ and ‘Geo Tez’ and now the transmission of these channels have been completely suspended throughout the country.
“12. That similarly, distribution of our clients’ newspapers has also been disturbed/banned in different parts of the country. The newspapers’ distribution vans of our clients are being set ablaze on a daily basis and the employees of our clients have also been threatened and tortured in various parts of the country, on the pretext that our clients are Anti-Pakistan.
“13. That despite our clients’ repeated requests, Pemra and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in utter violation of the statutory provisions have failed to restore the transmission of Geo News and other channels of our clients on their previous position.
“14. That in the above background, our clients have approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan. On 26.05.2014, the Supreme Court disposed of our clients’ application on the basis of Pemra’s counsel, Ibrahim Satti and Pemra’s head legal department, Zahid Malik’s undertaking that Pemra “shall abide by the terms of order dated 13.08.2012 passed in Constitution Petition No 51 of 2010, by which the report of Javed Jabbar, the mediator, was made part of the said order and that the Pemra will ensure that there is no shifting of the channels contrary to or in violation of the order dated 13.08.2012.
“15. That it is, however, regretfully noted that despite clear direction of the Supreme Court, Pemra has till to date not ensured implementation of the SC order in letter and spirit which shows that all of you, in collusion to each other, are bent upon damaging our clients.
“16. That due to your illegal actions, our clients are on a daily basis suffering huge financial loss as transmission of their channels has been illegally suspended and distribution of their newspapers has also been disturbed due to which they are not receiving any advertisements.
“17. That we on behalf of our clients request you to immediately provide our clients all the documentary evidence/proof in support of your allegations that our clients are involved in anti-Pakistani activities.
“18. That in view of the foregoing, our clients having no other option hereby call upon all of you to do the following within 14 days of this legal notice:
i. To stop levelling such defamatory statements;
ii. To broadcast or publish retraction or clarification for accusing our clients as traitors or anti-Pakistan;
iii. To publish an apology in a newspaper and make one through a TV interview in the same manner and in the same prominence;
iv. To restore the transmission of our clients’ channels ‘Geo News’, ‘Geo Entertainment’, ‘Geo Kahani’ and ‘Geo Tez’ to their previous positions all over Pakistan;
v. Not to harass cable operators to illegally suspend the transmissions of our clients’ channels;
vi. Though the defamation caused is immeasurable in monetary terms however, to pay our clients direct reputational damage and actual damage that come around almost to be Rs50,000,000,000 (Fifty billion rupees only).
“20. That if you fail to do the above within 14 days from the date of this legal notice, we have strict instructions from our clients to initiate appropriate legal proceedings against all of you in a court of competent jurisdiction for direct reputational damage caused to our clients and also actual losses that they are suffering on daily basis.
“21. That this legal notice is being served to you without prejudice to all the rights that our clients may be enjoying against you under the prevailing laws.”