Islamabad: Leading Pakistani media professionals and civil society leaders on Thursday condemned security analyst Zaid Hamid’s allegation that the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) is acting at the behest of Indian intelligence agencies.
In a statement, the media and civil society personalities said they had "taken serious exception to the unfounded and shameful accusations hurled by an irresponsible person against a media body of most credible journalists of the South Asian region".
Hamid, who is known for his anti-Indian stance and for backing jehadi and extremist groups, had made the allegations on a sensational talk show hosted by anchor Mehr Bukhari on Dunya TV.
The media and civil society personalities said Hamid`s remarks violated "all ethics of professional journalism".
They said SAFMA was a "mainstream media body associated with SAARC". "If Mr Hamid has committed an extreme defamation, which incites public sentiments against SAFMA and its thousands of members, Mehr Bukhari (and the) Dunya TV management have intentionally tried to malign a media body and its leaders by allowing such a provocative and damaging statement," the
The media and civil society leaders expressed serious concern over the "slanderous programme" anchored by Bukhari and took exception to the "dangerous trend in the electronic media of maligning various personalities and credible organizations".
They pointed out that the talk show had made no effort to invite a SAFMA representative to rebut the "atrocious allegations".
Senior journalists and civil society leaders have endorsed a move by SAFMA to sue Bukhari, her team and the management of Dunya TV.
SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam and other office-bearers of various SAFMA branches in Pakistan have decided to issue notices to the persons for their "highly irresponsible and provocative conduct".
Bukhari had earlier come under a cloud after media watchers said her interview with slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer incited violence against the politician for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.
Taseer was gunned down earlier this year by a police guard, who was angered by his calls to amend the blasphemy law.