Hameed Haroon, CEO of Dawn Media Group, found himself in an awkward situation on BBC’s HARDtalk program when Stephen Sackur, host of the show, asked him to provide evidence of his claim that Pakistan Army was orchestrating plans against democracy and Nawaz Sharif. His reply to this question was unbelievable and unbecoming of a person who runs the biggest and most powerful media group in the country. He said his source was social media.
Stephen Sackur asked him, “The bottom line is this, you the self-proclaimed, independent, impartial, neutral media group covering Pakistan politics seem to be supportive and sympathetic of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter who are now, it has to be said, convicted criminals.”
Hameed Haroon: “I think what is now important is that there is an element of orchestration in that.”
Stephen Sackur: “Where is your evidence? Who is orchestrating and where is your evidence for it [this claim]?”
Hameed Haroon: “I think if you go to the social media, if you look at the trolls on the social media, if you look at the attacks on Dawn. You might get some idea that there is a very large presence by the ISPR [he meant Pakistani intelligence when asked for clarification by Stephen Sackur].”
What this means is that Dawn, the so-called epitome of journalistic standards, would go to social media for evidence and hypothesize that since a lot of users are pro-Army, it can only mean that Army is behind all this.
Hameed Haroon did not have any evidence except for his opinion which he inferred from the trends in social media in favour of Army.
After all of Hameed Haroon’s wild claims, Stephen Sackur last question really should be an eye opener for many of our so-called journalists and media organization. Stephen asked again, “Where is your evidence? You are a journalist, you know you can’t say these things without having absolutely irrefutable evidence.”
Hameed Haroon’s reply to this question perfectly depicts the sorry state of our journalistic standards. He replied, “I think that evidence today in Pakistan must, to a certain extent, be looked at through inference, through the works of human rights organizations, through the works of political commentators.”
Hameed Haroon has faced criticism back home for his strange justification of his claims against Pakistani institutions. “If you’re going to hard talk it’s a really good idea to do your home work”, said Zarrar Khuhro who hosts Zara Hut Kay program on Dawn News.
If one is allowed to present material on social media as evidence, and draw wild conclusions through inference and from the opinions of political commentators, then it would not be unreasonable to say that Dawn may be running a propaganda against Pakistani state and funded by hostile intelligence agencies. Mr. Hameed Haroon would certainly agree, wouldn’t he?