Shahid Masood to be punished per law, observes CJP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court observed that anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood, who made startling allegations about the Zainab rape and murder case, will be proceeded against as per the law.

The remarks were made as a chief justice-led three-member bench took up its suo motu notice of the anchorperson’s claims made in a TV show.

During today’s hearing, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar dismissed the anchorperson’s response and observed that the time for apologising is over.

The chief justice then asked the additional attorney general for how long the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority can ban a channel for such a violation.

Rejecting the ‘unconditional apology’ submitted by Masood’s counsel, Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the anchor should have realised his responsibility. The case was then adjourned for a week, with directions to the attorney general to submit his response on the matter.

The chief justice also remarked during the hearing that the court will determine whether the matter falls under the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Moreover, during today’s hearing, the court appointed noted lawyer Faisal Siddiqui as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist it in the case.

At the last hearing on March 7, the Supreme Court had warned the anchorperson to submit his objections to the joint investigation team (JIT) report laying bogus his claims regarding the Zainab murder case convict.

On March 1, the JIT had submitted its report to the Supreme Court and dismissed all of the anchorperson’s allegations regarding the high-profile case.
Addressing Masood in court that day, Chief Justice Nisar had observed that the anchorperson spread sensationalism through his claims.

Zainab murder case allegations

Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 in Kasur and found dead five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem revealed Zainab had been raped. Later, the authorities succeeded in nabbing the suspect, Imran. He has since been sentenced to death by the trial court.
In a TV show on Jan 25, Dr Masood had claimed the convict had links with an influential figure and was part of an international ring. The chief justice had taken notice of the claims and sought a subsequent inquiry by a JIT.
In its report to the apex court, the JIT declared baseless all of the 18 allegations levelled by the anchorperson.
The JIT report states that no proof was found of the convict’s connection with an influential person or that he was being patronised by a federal minister.
It also states that no links of the convict with an international mafia or a serving federal minister were found.
Similarly, no proof was found that the convict could be killed while in police custody or that violent crime/child pornography is common in Kasur.
Moreover, the JIT did not find any truth to Dr Masood’s claims that many gangs are involved in violent crime/child pornography in Pakistan or that Imran was an active member of such gangs.
Allegations that the convict’s bank accounts were spread throughout Pakistan or that he received payments from abroad for crimes were also proven to be false.
Additionally, claims that Imran sent Zainab’s picture to international viewers before committing the crime, or that the incident was viewed live via the internet, were found to be false, with an observation by the JIT members that no evidence of Imran ever accessing the Dark Web or internet have been found.
Moreover, no proof was found that Dr Masood handed the name of an influential figure linked to the convict to the Supreme Court, nor was there any truth found about the claim that a close friend of the influential figure living abroad communicated information about the role of influential figure in violent crime/child pornography in Pakistan.
The report also reveals that the rejection of the convict’s multiple bank accounts had already been issued by the relevant authority.
The JIT, headed by Federal Investigation Agency Director General Bashir Memon, included Intelligence Bureau Joint DG Anwar Ali and Islamabad Police’s Assistant Inspector General (Operations) Asmatullah Junejo.