Vindicated After Death: Late Mushahid Ullah Wins Defamation Case Against Dunya News In UK
The late Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan has won defamation case against Pakistani TV channel Dunya News in the United Kingdom over a programme in which Dunya Islamabad Bureau Chief Khawar Ghumman had accused the late Senator of using Pakistan International Airline (PIA)’s money to stay in London and get treatment at a hospital in the city.
During the investigations, Dunya TV reportedly told UK media regulator Ofcom that it had no proofs that Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan used PIA’s money and blamed Fawad Chaudhary, the Information Minister, for making the false statement on the floor of the National Assembly. Dunya told Ofcom that Khawar Ghumman was referring to speech by Fawad Chaudhary in the National Assembly of Pakistan but Ofcom rejected the defence presented by Dunya News and asked the channel to give proofs.
Dunya TV made further allegations against Mushahid Ullah Khan using unverified accusations made on Pakistani news websites but Ofcom rejected Dunya’s claims and asked the channel to back up the allegations made by Khawar Ghumman or else the decision will be given in favour of Mushahid Ullah Khan.
According to details, Dunya News aired a News Programme on 24 June 2020 in UK about the findings of a report into a PIA plane crash in Karachi in May 2020.
Khawar Ghumman claimed that Mushahid Ullah Khan, who was a Senator in the Senate of Pakistan, was “treated” and stayed at a hotel in London at the expense of PIA. Mr Mushahid Ullah Khan complained that he was treated unfairly in the programme.
Mushahid Ullah Khan challenged Dunya TV to present any proofs and prove him guilty and told Ofcom that he was ready to face any penalty if allegations against him could be proven true or any witness or evidence could be shown.
The late Mushahid Ullah Khan told Ofcom that Khawar Ghumman was a pro-PTI anchor who maligned opposition party figures, without proofs, to support narrative of the ruling party but had no evidence to back up the libelous claims.
Khawar Ghumman had said: “How PIA was operated during the government of the Pakistan Muslim League-N [“PML-N”], that should also be brought in front of us. At that time Senator Mushahid Ullah [the complainant] was there and he was treated in London at the expense of PIA. He stayed in a PIA hotel in London. All these matters are there for everybody to see.”
Mr Khan had said that the allegation suggested that if there were faults with PIA’s operation, it was because people like him had been “fleecing” the airline and were “responsible for its current
woes”. The late Senator had added that the allegations were false and that he had never received or used “state funds or money”.
Dunya TV said in its defence that that the programme was aired following a press conference from the Federal Minister of Aviation highlighting issues including the alleged granting of fake licences to pilots and “arbitrary appointments” within PIA by previous government representatives. Dunya said that Khawar Ghumman, as one of the guests, was stating his own opinion on the controversy and that comments were made in the context of the historical political pressures placed on PIA by the regime of the Pakistan People’s Party and how PIA was operated during the government of the PML-N.
Dunya TV also provided Ofcom with links to articles published in 2017 against Mushahid Ullah Khan on Siasat website and which it said substantiated the comments made by Mr Khawar Ghumman in the programme. It said that the articles confirmed that Mr Khan had stayed in a hotel under bookings made as though he were a PIA employee. When asked by Ofcom to produce evidence of that, Dunya News failed to show any evidence that any booking was made or that Mr Khan had stayed at the hotel or did anything wrong.
The broadcaster added that on 26 June 2020, two days after the News programme was broadcast, Dunya TV broadcast an edition of its talk show programme, Ikhtilafi Note. Dunya TV said that during this programme, Mr Habib Akram categorically denied the allegations made against the complainant by Mr Ghumann but Ofcom rejected the defence of Dunya.
Lawyers of Dunya then disowned Khawar Ghumman and said he was only a guest on the show and his opinion didn’t matter but Mr Khan’s lawyers told Ofcom with evidence that Mr Ghumman was the Bureau Chief of Dunya in Islamabad who had a regular spot on all of the broadcaster’s programmes. Mr Khan told Ofcom that the fact that Mr Khawar Ghumman’s comments were denied by Mr Habib Akram in a subsequent programme confirmed that Mr Ghumman had lied and that the broadcaster knew the allegations were false.
Ofcom accepted Mr Khan’s case that Dunya TV relied on “false news”.
Ofcom declared that Khawar Ghumman’s comments about Mr Khan had the clear potential to materially and adversely affect viewers’ opinions of Mr Khan in a way that was unfair to him. Ofcom said: “The broadcaster did not take reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that resulted in unfairness to Mr Khan. Ofcom has upheld Mr Mushahid Ullah Khan’s complaint of unjust or unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast.
Senator Khan passed away in February this year. His son Doctor Afnan Ullah Khan has become the Senator on PMLN’s ticket. Senator Afnan Khan was not available to comment.