New Delhi: Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is at loggerheads with the press yet again after party leader and former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry got into a heated altercation with journalist Matiullah Jan outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Chaudhry called Jan a “rented journalist” – “kiraye ka aadmi” – after he and ex-minister Asad Umar were questioned about corruption allegations against Farah Khan, a close friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi. Jan reacted by calling Chaudry “kiraye ka tattu (mule for hire)” in return.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) called the incident shameful and asked Chaudhry to apologise, and threatened mass protests if he failed to do so. The Press Association of the Supreme Court also condemned the incident, calling accusations against Jan “ridiculous”. Several Pakistanis questioned Chaudhry’s “audacity”, while others said Jan “misbehaved first”.
— PFUJ Official (@OfficialPfuj) April 6, 2022
The Supreme Court is currently hearing the case on the legality of Pakistan’s deputy speaker rejecting the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan in the National Assembly.
Who is Farah Khan?
During the media briefing outside the Supreme Court, PTI leaders were asked to comment on reports about Farah Khan and her family leaving the country in the midst of corruption allegations. Khan’s Birkin bag was also a topic of conversation recently after a photo of her with it on a flight went viral.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Romina Khurshid Alam called Khan a “frontwoman” for Bushra Bibi and alleged that her Birkin bag cost $90,000.
Farah Khan, Bushra’s Frontwoman who ran away . The bag with her is for $90,000. Yes that’s ninety thousand dollars. pic.twitter.com/ESrZOKD3h6
— Romina Khurshid Alam (@MNARomina) April 5, 2022
Khan has been accused of taking 6 billion Pakistani rupees in bribes for favourable postings and transfers of government officers.
Media speaks out
Several journalists have spoken out against Chaudhry’s comments and rallied in support of Matiullah Jan.
Hamid Mir said that Chaudhry had under-estimated the journalist community in Pakistan.
Fawad Chaudhry under-estimated journalists community. Qasim Suri was not present there to help him. He forgot that he was no more information minister. @Matiullahjan919 only asked him a question about Farah Khan but he never wanted to respond and declared him rented journalist. https://t.co/p5oQc3X5XR
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) April 6, 2022
Hamza Azhar Salam, founder and editor of The Pakistan Daily, called Jan “the pride of journalists”.
Shocking behaviour by @fawadchaudhry who made extremely derogatory remarks against Matiullah Jan just to avoid a question. @Matiullahjan919 is the pride of journalists. 10 Fawad Chaudhrys are not worth one Matiullah Jan. #ImranKhanPrimeMinister#SupremeCourt#Pakistan pic.twitter.com/dQpta1C7p6
— Hamza Azhar Salam (@HamzaAzhrSalam) April 6, 2022
Naila Inayat took a jibe at Fawad Chaudhry by posting a screenshot of him looking angry during the media briefing.
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) April 6, 2022
Peshawar journalist Muhammad Faheem, however, said the proper protocols weren’t followed by Jan and accused him of provoking Chaudhry.
Online, not all Pakistanis supported the journalist community.
A Twitter user, Salman, asked: “Why doesn’t the PFUJ organize nationwide protests to defend free speech and the constitution? What are they waiting for?”
Why doesn’t the PFUJ organize nationwide protest to defend free speech and the constitution?
What are they waiting for? https://t.co/IeBSmuHzum
— Salman (سلمان صدیقی) (@salmansid) April 7, 2022
Others, responding to Samaa TV’s clip of the altercation, said: “This is journalism.”