December 31, 2021
ISLAMABAD—On Friday, Zaffar Abbas, editor of Dawn, asked the Islamabad High Court to review its decision to bring in contempt of court charges against Ansar Abbasi for his story on the affidavit of a former Gilgit-Baltistan judge.
In his tweet, Abbas said that if he had got the affidavit, he would have done the same story. "Honourable Justice Athar Minallah, pls review yr decision to charge journalists like @AnsarAAbbasi for contempt. Sir, journalism is not a crime. If I had access to this affidavit, I would have done exactly what Ansar did—do a story after proper verification of its authenticity."
Abbas is the latest addition to the number of journalists calling on the IHC to drop its contempt proceedings.
Reporters Without Border has called for dropping the charges against the two newspaper journalists and the owner for publishing a former judge's leaked affidavit revealing alleged judicial collusion to deny bail to leading opposition politicians who were jailed on the eve of the 2018 general elections.
However, the issue has also divided journalists.
Arshad Sharif hit back at Abbas. In a tweet in Urdu, he said, "This is the editor of Dawn. In simple words he is saying if somebody gives an affidavit that Modi (Indian Prime Minister) publishes Dawn from Delhi, then he (Abbas) would simply ask the person about the affidavit and would publish it. There was mudslinging against IHC and an honourable judge who was not in the country was made controversial."
Earlier, television presenter Mubasher Zaidi questioned journalist Mazhar Abbas' call for dropping charges against Abbasi. In his tweet, Zaidi asked: "Mazhar bhai with all due respect did the reporter contact the affected party? Journalistic ethics demand that he should have. Plus an affidavit until submitted in the court has no value."
In his tweet, Mazhar said a journalist should not be punished for doing his job. "Charge the journalist for not doing his job, don't charge him for doing his job. The prime responsibility of a reporter is to give the news after verification. If any reporter has checked it before giving the news he can't be charge for responsible journalism."
Dawn, December 15, 2019
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