Yellow Journalism by Ahmad Noorani

Featured Articles — April 3, 2014

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An “Investigative Journalist” Ahmad Noorani recently broke a so called scandalous story in the media slaying allegations of nepotism and favoritism towards IT Minister saying that her Husband was given a lucrative job in a state owned cellular Operator. He tried to sensationalize the story by falsely speculating and linking the appointment to the upcoming 3G/4G sale. He banished about a false figure of $2.5 Billion, in order to give a fabricated impression to the readers that there must be a financial gain involved in the appointment linking it to the to the 3G/4G deal.

The so-called “investigative story” was also dramatized by the journalist on social media trying to portray as if it was a mega scandal revealed by his piece of intellectual work to stop corruption and expose the practice of nepotism by the government.

Before we go into the nitty-gritty of things discussed in the article lets briefly walk through the profile of the person in question, Mr. Shabbir Ahmad Khan:

– Mr. Khan is a “Sloan Fellow”, which is highly respectable program by MIT, Stanford and LBS for experienced managers who have demonstrated success within organizations or independently as entrepreneurs

– He holds a management degree from the prestigious London Business School in the UK

– He was responsible for bringing ABN AMRO’s IT company to Pakistan and worked as it’s Co-CEO

– He has Served as a Corporate Vice President for Strategy at Telenor (Global)

Lets now look at some of the facts which writer deliberately tried to hide or ignore to fulfill his self agenda that openly contradicts the version Mr. Noorani was trying to present in his astounding story:

– Any sensible person who have a basic working knowledge of Company affairs would know that a position on the Board of Directors is not even a job let alone a lucrative one, and it doesn’t make you an employee of the company. Members of boards are not entitled to a monthly salary from the Company. He is assigned to protect the State interest in the entity through his professionalism, entrepreneurial skills and relevant experience in the field of telecom. Therefore the headline of the story “Minister’s husband finds job” is totally baseless and misleading.

– The appointee has served in many superior positions in the past and possesses profoundly relative experience for the role.

– Prime Minister is the appointing authority for the Board of Directors in state-owned entities. IT Ministry or any other government body for that matter has no bearing in the decision making process in this regard. If the reporter had any objections or questions regarding this appointment, he should have approached the PM office, which was responsible of making the appointment instead of harassing the relatives of the appointee. In this case the reporter insisted to get answers from the wife of appointee, which happens to be the IT Minister instead of asking the office of the Prime Minister, which was responsible for making the appointment.

The 3G/4G auction under question is being done by the PTA through a transparent international group of consultants, not by Ufone. This proves the mala fide intentions on part of the journalist who tried to link the two together. He started his article with an amazing figure of 2.5 Billion dollars in an attempt to exaggerate his self-perceived idea of combining the appointment of Mr. Khan to a possible financial corruption. Can the reporter explain where he got the $2.5 billion figure from and what is the role of Ufone in the process?

– The government has either already replaced or is in process of replacing all incompetent members of Boards of Directors and heads of public enterprises that were installed by Zardari regime. This includes the public entities that have no link to 3G/4G auction like OGDCL, PSO, Power Distribution Companies, PIA etc.

– The existing member who was removed and replaced by Mr. Khan was a non-professional person with the background in shoe making business in Gujjar Khan (voter of ex-PM Raja Pervez). The journalist did not have any problem with incompetent appointments done by Zardari regime, but instead he is trying to scandalize a completely legitimate appointment made purely on merit.

– There was no law broken in making this appointment and there was no question on merit.

It is really a sad state of affairs that how these kinds journalists are supporting the forces who want to keep competent and professional people out so that they keep the strangle hold of the important positions. These incapable people are responsible for the loss of billions of rupees in the state owned enterprises because of their incompetent decision-making. It is them who make use of some petty journalists to fulfill their agenda and feed this type of sensational stories to them.

The professional and competent people are always in demand. They try to avoid any politicized positions precisely because of the reasons mentioned above. This is plainly one of the main reasons it is very hard to find competent professionals to run the state enterprises.

It was so sad to see the way this episode unfolded at the resignation of Mr. Shabbir Khan a few days after he was appointed due to the baseless allegations of petty journalism in amalgamation with the incompetent status quo forces who couldn’t comprehend a proficient person installed to oversee the state interests because he could challenge their feeble decision making process. This type of scandalous and so-called “Investigative Journalism” needs to be condemned which is propelling the able out of the public positions.