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March 31, 2020

Zulfi Bukhari sends defamation notice to Khawaja Asif

Pakistan

March 31, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to PM Sayed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari Monday sent a legal notice to PML-N senior leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif over allegations that he used his influence to allow pilgrims from Iran to return to Pakistan via Taftan without fulfilling proper procedure, which allegedly resulted in spread of the coronavirus in the country.

He asked the PML-N leader to either withdraw his statement or face defamation proceedings in Pakistan as well as abroad. The notice has been dispatched to him at his Sialkot residence as well as his suite at the Parliament Lodges.

According to the notice, a copy of which is available with this correspondent, Bukhari contended that in media chat outside the Supreme Court on March 17, Khawaja Asif alleged that Bukhari ‘was responsible for allowing a flood of Zaireen from Iran without any quarantine or isolation as required by law and social responsibility norms’.

The prime minister’s aide on overseas Pakistanis, said in the notice, “you have essentially blamed me for the spread of the coronavirus and you later tweeted that those responsible for the Covid-19 deaths in the country were Prime Minister Imran Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Zulfiqar Bukhari.”

He stated in the notice that by making and disseminating these defamatory statements PML-N leader had inevitably injured his standing both at home and abroad and the allegations were likely to cause him financial loss, but also risk him being stigmatised and shunned in social circles.

Bukhari asked Khawaja Asif to withdraw, recall and retract the defamatory imputations, in addition to making a public apology to be broadcast and disseminated prominently and post the same on all online platforms and websites on which the (allegations) were posted.

Through the notice, the special assistant to PM also called on PML-N leader to publish a contradiction to the defamatory statement and imputation, setting out the correct and factual position on the matter. And, a failure to comply with these within 14 days would lead to Bukhari filing for defamation suit worth Rs1 billion against PML-N leader and others.

“Failing which, I have given instructions to my legal counsel to institute proceedings in Pakistan against you and all other necessary and proper parties (jointly and severally) under the Defamation Ordinance, 2002 for damages of at least Rs1 billion and also institute proceedings in any other jurisdiction where the statement was disseminated (including, without limitations, the United Kingdom) under the applicable law in such jurisdiction seeking permanent jurisdiction and heavy and special damages against you,” he said.

On his part, Khawaja Asif has reportedly said that he would respond to the notice, once he receives it and claimed that he was not alone; the entire country was making such allegations against Bukhari.