Friday, November 12, 2010

Gold in Balochistan & Credibility of Jang Group of Newspapers.

Credibility means the quality of being trusted and believed in or the quality of being convincing or believable . The Former, then present, then former and now Present Group Editor of The News International [The Editorial Staff/Owners also think that The News and Jang Group of Newspapers are Anti-American and Promote Pakistan's alleged National Interests], the one and only Mr Shaheen Sehbai. We all know that Liars don’t have good Memory. Please keep one thing in mind while going through the "compilation" below that Mr Shaheen Sehbai had complained about the Falling Standards of The News International in 2002 [the standards fell when Mr Shaheen Sehbai resigned during Musharraf's Tenure in 2002] now standard of The News International is again risen since Mr Shaheen Sehbai has agin joined and now it can be compared with The New Yorker/ The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Mr. Shaheen Sehbai used to work for Daily Dawn and now read what Daily Dawn had filed on his departure from The News International in the year 2002.

JOURNALIST Shaheen Sehbai, resigned as editor of The News on March 1 after serving the paper for about 14 moths. In a letter addressed to colleagues, Mr Sehbai, who earlier had a very distinguished career with Dawn, implied that the publisher had charged him with policy violations and professional misconduct to sack him under pressure from the military government. He enclosed a memorandum from the publisher alleging publication of libellous matter, alienating advertisers, failing to consult him on important matters, printing a story recently that was ‘perceived to be damaging to our national interest’ and elicited a severe reaction from the government, failing to contact ‘relevant government functionaries’ to discuss the issue, and being generally inaccessible to senior government officials as well his own staff.

The memo also complained of a lack of improvement in the paper.

Mr Sehbai said he had answered by recalling that the publisher had informed him of the government demand to sack four The News staffers, including the editor, and regretted that “you have decided to get in line.” He said he was aware that the government had stopped carrying advertisements in not only The News but also other papers of the group and that the publisher had been told that only the dismissals would result in their restoration. He claimed that he had been asked to contact the Inter-Services Intelligence officials but had refused on principal to call, or meet, any government official in a ‘hostage’ situation. On the other hand, he said, he had conveyed to the government the evidence that the paper’s policy had, in fact, been tilted in its favour. At least 50 editorials and over 100 articles published in about six weeks were cited to prove the point. The paper, he said, had at times gone out of its way to accommodate the government.

But, Mr Sehbai said, he could not allow a newspaper he edited to become the voice of any government for monetary considerations. Dismissing “whatever other issues you have raised” as “childish and frivolous,” he said there was no point in discussing them. Recounting management problems, Mr Sehbai also mentioned the “legal jugglery” employed to deprive contract workers of salary increases and the refusal to renew their contracts. The episode was described in foreign media as a blow to claims of freedom of press in Pakistan. A spokesman for the government was said to have denied Mr Sehbai’s allegations. At The News, no replacement has since been named. REFERENCE: Judge not lest ye be judged [Dated March 10, 2002 Sunday Zilhaj 25, 1422 Courtesy: Daily Dawn URL:

Now read what Mir Shakil ur Rehman, Editor in Chief, The News International, had to say about the Mr. Shaheen Sehbai.



To: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
From: MSR, Editor-in-Chief
Date: 2/28/02
Re: Violation of policy

I am constrained to bring to your notice several, and repeated, violation of editorial policies clearly understood between us. Infact, these policies have also been agreed in writing. On 26th March, 2001, you had published a one sided, incorrect and libelous article against Mr. Aittiazaz Bob Din, a well known businessman residing in the United States. Although Mr. Bob Din had cited person differences between the two of you, dating back to your stay in the United States, as the motive behind the unfounded allegations against him, I had disregarded this suggestion at that time and had judged the matter purely on merit. As you will recall, you were unable to substantiate the serious charges you had leveled against him. It was only through my personal apologies and the intervention of mutual acquaintances that we were able to dissuade Mr. Din from suing the News for defamation and libel. On two different occasions, you published unfavourable articles about PIA, which were of uncertain veracity and did not contain their point of view, as a result of which they denounced these articles in a press conference, threatened to take legal action, suspended our advertisements and also stopped putting our papers on PIA flights. Needless to say, these measures hurt us financially, damaged our reputation and took a great deal of pacification to undo.

I would also refer to the written terms of our agreement at the time of your appointment under which you are required to discuss the top stories of the day and other important editorial matters with me and seek the Editor-in-chiefs point of view and verdict on contentious issues? To my recollection, you have never deemed it fit to consult me on any matter. In this connection, I would further like to refer to our meeting on the eve of Eid in which group Editor Daily Jang was also present and we discussed the fallout of the story printed a few days earlier in the News ( again without consulting me, I might add ) which was perceived to be damaging to our national interest and elicited severe reaction by the Government. It had been agreed that we would contact relevant Government functionaries and arrange to meet with them to discuss the issue and also convey our point of view. Regrettably, you chose not to go to Islamabad and attend the meeting even though this had been clearly agreed. You even rebuffed senior Government officials who contacted you on the phone by hanging up on them. Sham Sahib and I left several messages with your assistant but again, you chose not to take or return our calls.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out again, that it is a frequent complaint that you do not interact with people. Not only have senior Government officials protested that you are inaccessible to them, but even your own staff complains that you are hardly available for meetings, guidance and discussions.

I must convey my disappointment to you at all these issues, as I must convey my disappointment with the lack of general progress in the improvement of the News. The number of mistakes and blunders being committed, failure to follow agreed journalistic ethics - as pointed out to you from time to time by EMD have all resulted in financial set backs as well as loss of credibility for the News. I have only recounted some of the problems besetting the Jang group. It is quite evident that matters are not proceeding as we had agreed. However, before I make up my mind, I would like to hear your point of view.

I look forward to hearing from you about the serious issues that I have raised above and any solutions that you may propose.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman


REFERENCE: Why Are We Killing Ourselves? Anas Malik March 2, 2002

The Correspondents even the Senior or Junior of The Jang Group of Newspapers use "Wiretaps and Abusive Language against each other", here is a glimpse:) Ahmad Noorani, a Jang news reporter was doing a story regarding allotment of plots to some journalists by the federal government. For this he called Nazir Naji and now listen and note as to how low these Journalists can go "tapping conversation is a crime"

Muhammad Ahmad Noorani and Nazir Naji "having decent conversation" Part - 1

Muhammad Ahmad Noorani and Nazir Naji "having decent conversation" Part - 2

Muhammad Ahmad Noorani and Nazir Naji "having decent conversation" Part - 3


As per a noted blogger "Cafe Pyala"



Remember this story in The News on November 3 by its Group Editor, Shaheen Sehbai? The front page 'expose' of an allegedly massive corruption scandal around theReko Diq copper and gold mining project in Balochistan set tongues wagging all over Pakistan and among Pakistani expatriates abroad. The scale of the scandal was said to dwarf all previous scandals. The headline screamed:

"$260 billion gold mines going for a song, behind closed doors"

Front page of The News on November 3, 2010

Now, in case you didn't follow the story or do not remember the exact words Mr. Sehbai used in his typically convoluted but bombastic style, let me briefly remind you what the investigative story said. Mr Sehbai begins by building conspiratorial suspense, clearly implying that President Zardari and his partymen are on the take to sell national wealth down the river to line their own pockets:

"Quietly, and below the media radar, some 20 top corporate bosses and lobbyists of two of the world’s largest gold mining groups have been meeting President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Governor State Bank and others in Islamabad throughout last week, pressing them to quickly hand over one of the world’s biggest gold and copper treasures found in Balochistan at Reko Diq, worth over $260 billion, to their companies, and for peanuts. Before these highly enticing visits of the mining tycoons to clinch the deals, which followed intense behind-the-scene negotiations and bargaining through middle men, some highly bizarre developments have been taking place, leaving experts and the rest of the mining world stunned, amazed and confused."

He expands on this tone:

"There is a plethora of documents, which prove that almost everybody involved is trying to deceive everybody else, the real picture is never presented, misleading statements and even contradictory claims have been made in the media, the issue has been kept confused as the real mega deal is maturing fast behind closed doors."

Citing the New York Times story that posited that Afghanistan was sitting on reserves of lithium worth up to a trillion US dollars (a story, it should be pointed out, that has itself been seriously questioned as a Pentagon attempt to sway public opinion in the US), Mr. Sehbai adds:

"Pakistan, it is estimated in mining circles, has more deposits than Afghanistan, so the enormity of the riches and the cost of the backdoor deals can easily be guessed. “It would be the mother of all the deals and grandfather of all the corruption cases in Pakistan, put together,” according to one expert. Reading the piles of documents, statements, interviews and legal papers available with The News, the picture that emerges is one of a grand deception, loot and plunder that never happened before on such a scale and the facts, untruths, half-truths, attempts to sabotage, frauds and backdoor bribes, are all documented. It all started in the Musharraf era but once the massive scale of the stakes involved became apparent to the PPP government, the Raisani/Zardari camp quickly jumped into the fray to renegotiate the deal, behind closed doors."

So far so good. I was hooked. Imagine my surprise then, when in an 'appearance' on tonight's Kehnay Mein Kya Harj Hai programme on Geo, Sehbai seemed to backtrack from the thrust of his story. You can see his opening salvo in the first few minutes of the following clip:

Kehne mein kia harj hai - 9th november 2010 part 2


Basically, Sehbai says this is an old story, that he didn't really break the story and that all he did was raise questions about the murkiness of the deals being made so that someone could investigate it properly. Say what? I thought he had already worked it all out for us! In fact, I was so shocked at the weak defence of his sensational story (the host, Mohammad Mallick, then helps him out by saying that Sehbai's actually not accusing anyone directly of anything, he just wants things that are shrouded in mystery to be made clear) that I actually sat up and began to watch the programme with interest.

Sehbai really had me intrigued when he subsequently added that he had over 1,000 documents lying with him but that it is impossible to make sense of them by reading them in two to four days (so that's how long Sehbai worked on his investigative piece!), claiming that his story was actually a plea for someone to "go deeply into this and find out what is going on." I was intrigued, you see, because I kind of remembered Sehbai referring to a "deep study" of the documents in his possession, after which he had made the following declaration (as quoted above):

"Reading the piles of documents, statements, interviews and legal papers available with The News, the picture that emerges is one of a grand deception, loot and plunder that never happened before on such a scale and the facts, untruths, half-truths, attempts to sabotage, frauds and backdoor bribes, are all documented."

I am only reiterating that quote to drive home the point that Mr Sehbai has just shown himself to be either a coward or one of the most intellectually dishonest reporters to grace journalism in Pakistan. I also decided to go back and re-read his story and lo and behold certain other things began to stand out for me. For one, his source seems to be a representative of an American mining company with ties to the US establishment (keep in mind that the mining company being attacked in his piece is a Canadian-Chilean joint venture):

"“Because there is no effective investigating agency like NAB operating in the country, it is just the right case for the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to pick up the issue, put a hold on whatever is going on before any binding contracts and deals are signed, which may cause losses of billions of dollars, yes billions of dollars to Pakistan,” according to a corporate executive involved in the mining industry, based in New York. His company chairman is a reputed former three-term Congressman."

Vested interests, anyone?

Look, I am not so naiive as to think that a multi-billion dollar business deal such as this could take place in contemporary Pakistan without a huge amount of kickbacks and commissions (there is enough evidence that indicates every major deal involves corruption at various levels). But surely, one must also consider the motivations of corporations (and governments) that make such allegations about business rivals only so that they may perhaps themselves get a piece of the pie.

But even more interesting is that the entire basis of Sehbai's report is called into question by the representative of the company targeted, Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), on the Geo programme, which also brings in Balochistan politicians Lt. General (retd)Abdul Qadir Baloch (former Governor Balochistan and MNA of the PMLN) and Senator Dr Abdul Malik, President of the National Party for comments. Even the US$260 Billion figure seems, from the programme, to have been a product of Sehbai's flawed understanding of mining concepts. Samia Ali Shah, the Manager Corporate Communications for TTC more or less reduces the entire distinguished panel and the host, Mallick, to grasping at rhetoric and anecdotal hearsay. For those of you interested, I would strongly urge you to watch the whole programme, the remainder of which (following on from above) is provided below. It really is an eye-opener for all the wrong reasons:

Kehne mein kia harj hai - 9th november 2010 part 3


Kehne mein kia harj hai - 9th november 2010 part 4


Kehne mein kia harj hai - 9th november 2010 part 5


I should probably reiterate that I am in no way arguing that everything about the Reko Diq deal is above board, that TCC is a model company or that there are no issues with the fairness of what Balochistan and Pakistan stand to actually gain from the exploitation of its mineral wealth. (I have heard enough rumours in Balochistan and elsewhere not to make any such judgement, especially without all the information.) And of course the media manager of a multinational is going to do what she is paid to do, i.e. defend her company. But irrespective of the undoubtedly exploitative nature of trans-national companies, what this programme clearly shows is the absolute and cringe-worthy understanding of economic issues across the board among most journalists and politicians. I have yet to understand why some journalists insist on writing on issues they don't even understand themselves.

You want to take on the big bad wolf of international extractive capitalism? At least get not only your facts but also your concepts right. To try and take them on with such half-baked knowledge is suicide.

: : : UPDATE : : :

Further intellectual dishonesty. Today's The News(November 10) carries a story on the back page, ascribed to the Monitoring Desk, with the heading "Reko Diq Company accepts probe by independent commission." The story tries to spin the embarrassing blowing up of Shaheen Sehbai's claims in his face and the participants' and host's inability to ever corner the company on any facts, by saying:

"The Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Private) Limited, a joint venture between two major Canadian and Chilean mining companies, working on the multi-billion dollar controversial gold and copper mines project at Reko Diq in Balochistan agreed on Tuesday to set up an independent commission of experts to examine the numerous confusing aspects of the huge mining deal to the satisfaction of both the public and official stakeholders including the Balochistan government.
The spokesperson of the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), Samia Shah conceded in the TV show “Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai?”, hosted by Mohammed Malick on Tuesday night, that her company will welcome such an independent commission. Other participants of the programme while welcoming this development however insisted that such an expert commission must be chosen and paid for by the government of Balochistan to exclude any possibility of the company influencing the commission’s findings."

As you may verify from the recording of the programme posted above earlier, rather than "conceding" anything, Ms. Shah had, in effect, dared (in a polite way) the participants to come up with facts and figures to contradict her/ TCC's claims through any independent commission. In addition, the last line the para quoted above is, simply, pure and utter fabrication. In fact, Mohammad Mallick had tried his best to get Ms. Shah to agree to TCC paying for the expert commission, more than once saying that the company had enough "dollars" to fund it and that he was trying to save the government money. It was Ms. Shah rather than "other participants" who pointed out that TCC paying for an expert commission might compromise the perception of its independence and refused to do commit to it.

When will The News' / Jang Group editors learn to take contradictions with some grace? REFERENCE: Reko Diqheads (Updated) WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010

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