ISLAMABAD - Apparently looking perturbed over a discussion on social media regarding his personal life, PTI Chairman Imran Khan Saturday asked the masses to boycott Geo TV, saying the media group was shaping the national narrative on foreign agendas at the cost of national interests after getting money from foreign sources.
The PTI chief also alleged that the incumbent government had nexus with the media group owned by Mir Shakeelur Rehman as the former was reluctant to take action against the latter and bring it in the ambit of law. "Geo TV has become media cell of the government," he added.
Addressing a press conference here at Bani Gala, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf demanded of the government to launch a probe into the financial sources of the media group, financial irregularities of the group and its rescheduled loans as well as assets and bank accounts of the owner of the group. He said it was necessary to ascertain the facts. He demanded that there should be a detailed audit of the foreign funding of the group.
"The assets of Shakeel and his bank accounts should be inquired through an independent commission," he demanded. He also said that Geo TV should publicly apologise to the nation for taking funding from abroad for shaping national narrative and to him for running a character assassination campaign against him on social media. He said that the media group should be brought within the norms and cultural values, as the Geo TV was airing objectionable programme and it should apologise to the nation.
Earlier, the core committee meeting of the party was held at Bani Gala under the chair of Khan that mainly discussed a number of issues related to the Geo TV.
"While living in a residence amounting to Rs 5 billion in Dubai and driving vehicles having cost of millions, he (Mir Shakeel) affects the top level decisions of the country," Khan said, adding that Shakeel was running a foundation to get money from abroad to finance the Geo TV.
Alleging that Shakeel was getting foreign funding to run Geo and showing documents in this regard, he said the group took 6.9 million pounds from DFID, took money from US State Department as well as Voice of America and for Aman Ki Asha programme. "This money was got during the war on terror...which country permits to set agenda on foreign money," he asked. He said one hand, the media group is asking for peace but on the western borders, the same group is asking for war. "When I talk about peace, I am being branded as Taliban Khan. You after taking money from abroad say this is our war while the people are dying and this is a conspiracy," he said.
Khan said Shakeel was defending his financial interests through his media group and was defaulter of National Bank of Pakistan as well as Sindh Revenue Board. "The media group owes Rs 180 million to NBP in 2010, the loan was rescheduled and then it was never paid," he informed. He said no one could face the opposition of the group and the government also gave in before it. The media group is also defaulter of PEMRA, he added. Khan said that the government removed former PEMRA chairman Chaudhry Rasheed Ahmed under the pressure of the Geo as the chairman had written to the Senate committee that the group had to pay around Rs 4 billion outstanding dues of PEMRA. Rasheed also denied fifth TV licence to the group.
He went on to disclose that the government had recently waived off Rs 20 million fine on TV anchor Najam Sethi that he had to pay for not showing the details of a flat in New York in his assets. "This means government and Geo had nexus," he said.
He stressed that an eight-hour campaign against ISI chief was run on Geo TV on the orders of Shakeel and he did this on someone else's agenda. "On one hand the ministry of defence filed the petition against Geo TV, and on the other information ministry came to rescue it," he said. "Shakeel sent me a legal notice when I said that PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) chairman was the employee of Geo and he gave rights to the media group. Mir Shakeel understands that no one can challenge him," he said, adding that he being public representative had the right to question anyone.