During a 2019 TV show on Pakistani news channel ARY UK, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide Shahazad Akbar and two hosts of the programme made allegations of money-laundering against PML(N) leader and finance minister in Nawaz Sharif cabinet, Ishaq Dar. The channel has now issued an apology for the defamatory remarks made against Dar.
“I am humbled. Allegations of Shahzad Akbar, Ch Ghulam Hussain and Sabir Shakir on ARY stand rubbished. Truth wins and justice prevails at UK High Court. ARY Group apologises with defamation damages and legal costs,” Dar tweeted.
According to reports in the Pakistani media, Dar had filed a defamation suit against ARY UK in July 2020 for remarks made against him during the show aired on 8 July 2019 and 8 August 2019. In the programme, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide Shahazad Akbar had accused Dar of impeding the work of the Financial Monitoring Unit in Pakistan and ARY hosts Chaudhary Ghulam Hussain and Sabir Shakir had claimed that the former finance minister had “stolen money from Pakistan government and was willing to return it to be allowed to return to Pakistan”. Claims were also made on the show that Dar’s bank accounts had about $1 billion stolen money and that the PML(N) leader had given death threats to an individual.
On Monday, the channel aired a statement of apology for the “significant distress, upset and embarrassment which these broadcasts have caused him (Dar)”.
“Mr Dar never managed the Financial Monitoring Unit… never impeded its work, nor did he do anything to protect anybody in any case including the alleged Choudhury Sugar Mills case,” read the statement of apology.
“I have never been involved in corruption or any unlawful activity and never used any influence against any institution. The allegations made by the pro-government media house and Shahzad Akbar were aimed at damaging my reputation but Allah SWT has been most kind and the TV channel has accepted in the UK judicial process that the allegations were fabricated, false and untrue. The TV channel has accepted that I was maligned and nothing wrong has been done by me”, Dar said in a statement given to Dawn newspaper.
‘Shame on ARY’ trends
ARY has been in headlines previously too for airing other such ‘damaging’ programmes. In 2016, the channel was forced to broadcast a UK High Court judgment that found that 24 programmes on editor-in-chief of Jang Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, were “seriously defamatory”. In the same year, the channel had agreed to pay businessman Mian Mansha damages of £75,000 and agreed legal costs of £200,000 for defamatory remarks made against him.
Pakistani users on Twitter were quick to point out how ARY News keeps repeating the same behavior and trended #ShameOnAry.
— Humaid (@humaidmerchant) October 19, 2021
Users also commented that repeated peddling of fake news makes it difficult for the public to discern what is real.
— Raja Naqqash Saeed ووٹ کو عزت دو. (جہلم) (@RNaqqashSaeed) October 18, 2021
ARY News is a group of liars who throw away the turbans of those who serve Pakistan. Today, Ishaq Dar has won a case against @ARYSabirShakir & @Chghulamhusain and the management of @ARYNEWSOFFICIAL in British court. Congratulations @MIshaqDar50.🇵🇰 #ShameOnAry #اسحاق_ڈار_سرخرو pic.twitter.com/HszvvWjCOr
— Yasir Laghari (@Yasir_PMLN07) October 18, 2021