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June 15, 2012

TV anchors caught conspiring in off-air studio talk

Top Story

June 15, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The conspiracy against the judiciary is unfolding as a connection between the media, the tycoon and prime minister’s son has been established through mid-break discussion videos leaked by Dunya TV staff.

Mubashir Lucman is known by all and sundry in media circles for his closeness to former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and for numerous campaigns he ran against the movement of lawyers, the restoration of an independent judiciary and especially his venom against the-then deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. This person appears to be the prime character in the conspiracy along with Mehr Bokhari, who too joined the media through a ‘parachute landing’, and Malik Riaz Hussain of Bahria Town.

Behind the scenes footage showing Lucman and Mehr Bokhari talking to Riaz during their show has surfaced on YouTube and some mainstream TV channels under the title ‘Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman on Dunya TV’. It establishes the connection of the prime minister’s son with the whole Malik affair, attempt of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s daughter attempt to get a favourable comment from Malik Riaz and last but not the least, how a few so-called anchors could stoop so low before a huge business tycoon.

The involvement of the owner of Dunya TV cannot be ruled out in this conspiracy, as there were strict instructions from him to the anchors not to interrupt Malik Riaz. Mian Amir was also named by Lucman that he had pressurised him to conduct the show. It is worth mention here that Mian Amir is considered close to the government circles and his television channel is getting more share than its ranking from the government ads. The videos that have surfaced depict that the so-called anchors were acting like paid servants of Malik Riaz besides Mian Amir.

There are two videos, in one of which Mubashir Lucman is seen receiving a call on his cell phone from Ali Qadir Gilani, son of Prime

Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, and Mubashir told him that Riaz Malik was not letting him name Hamid Mir, the known Geo TV anchor. Later Lucman gave his phone to Malik Riaz, and then PM’s son and Riaz Malik talked to each other.

During the mid-break ‘planning’, Mehr Bokhari told Malik Riaz that she would ask questions relating to the chief justice and Arsalan Iftikhar as Arsalan has told her that he never met Malik Riaz. Malik Riaz agreed.

Malik Riaz also asked the so-called anchors that he wanted to readout some documents, which later turned out to be orders of the Supreme Court against him.

Lucman, while talking about the plots and money allegedly doled out to media persons by Malik Riaz, said that he would talk about the villas gifted to the journalists as he too wanted a house and would demand it openly from Riaz. On one occasion, Mehr Bokhari told Riaz Malik that she would ask a question about the CJ while Lucman saying that he would ask questions from Malik Riaz’s side i.e. the allegations that Malik Riaz has been levelling against the judiciary. All this was being penned during the mid-break.

Even Malik Riaz is seen saying to both the anchors that they should ask questions about his appearance in every deal because he wanted to talk about it. He also dictated Lucman to ask him questions regarding the involvement of other businessmen in Pakistani politics throughout the history.

Lucman told Malik Riaz on one occasion that the chief justice had pre-empted his move to explode the ‘bomb’ and took suo moto notice of the issue. Lucman also told Malik Riaz that Geo TV was running clips that Malik Riaz gets his files cleared by bribing the officials. Upon which Malik Riaz said, “Hamid Mir must be running it because he is against us.” Lucman replied that why he is against you when you have gifted him a villa.

On one occasion Malik Riaz complains to the anchors that all of his questions that he wanted to be asked have not been asked. Lucman also said that to create a hype of their show from 10 p.m. onwards, he would ask a question from Malik Riaz, which would be answered after 10 p.m. “I will ask that you wanted to become prime minister of Pakistan.” Malik Riaz replied that he never desired for any post in the world.

Mubashir Lucman also readout a text message to Riaz Malik that Supreme Court has arranged a room for Arsalan in Balochistan House. Malik Riaz said that he would say this plus he has also asked a fourth question from the CJ. They also agreed that they would talk about the scandals of journalists at the end of the programme to clear Mehr Bokhari’s name.

During the mid-break discussion of the triplet of the programme, which was aired from 10 to 11 p.m., Lucman and Mehr are being given clear signs that Malik Riaz would not be interrupted at any cost and if he wanted to go overtime, he would be allowed without any hindrance. Then both the anchors, Lucman and Mehr, like paid servants, started to make Malik Riaz understand the crux of the code of conduct for judges so that Malik Riaz could easily attack the chief justice regarding conflict of interest issue.

Lucman also asked Malik Riaz to give him information, which is explosive. Malik Riaz replied that he has given so many ‘bombs’ including a fourth question to the CJ. Then Mehr Bokhari and Mubashir Lucman were seen at odds with each other when Mehr announced to ask question regarding Moonis Elahi from Riaz Malik. Lucman even left the set for a few moments and was later convinced by Malik Riaz’s staff. When he came back he said that he would say on air that Mian Amir and Malik Riaz pressurised him to conduct the programme, which he eventually said later.

In the meanwhile, Malik Riaz kept on saying: “Mubashir you are spoiling my programme; for God’s sake come back as you are being unfair with me.” Mehr taunted Lucman that he was acting like a child.

Mehr also told Malik Riaz she has received an SMS from Maryam Nawaz Sharif asking Malik Riaz to say on record that Hamza Shahbaz had refused his offer of a bullet-proof car. Then on one occasion Lucman also said that a person had come outside Dunya TV office and had evidences against Dr Arsalan and that he would say this on air. Malik Riaz also disclosed that only Mubashir Lucman was ‘through’ with his son among the media personalities.

While discussing the affairs of the CJ’s son, Malik Riaz told Lucman that he has invested money on him while Arsalan was repaying it back to someone else. They made a joke of it. In the end, Mehr Bokhari is shown saying that Arsalan Iftikhar might go to Geo TV for an interview.

TV anchor Mehr Bokhari later explained in her show that the programme was not scripted and she had not been under any pressure from any side. However, she admitted that one question might have been planted, but she said in such TV shows it was a common thing that guests and anchors and even some outsiders insisted that a particular question be asked.