Senior journalist Asma Shirazi has served a defamation notice on Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority Ali Nawaz Awan over his allegation that the journalist had taken money from the ruling PTI’s opponents for writing articles critical of the government.
In the legal notice, which Asma Shirazi shared on her Twitter account, Ali Nawaz Awan is quoted as saying “I will prove it (journalists write columns after taking money) right now. Take Asma Shirazi’s column.” He made the comments on February 28 while appearing on Kamran Shahid’s Dunya News show, ‘On the Front’.
“It is an obvious attempt at spreading disinformation against our client, simply to reduce her reputation and subject her to contempt and ridicule,” the notice alleges, arguing that the “false and defamatory statement also amounts to an attack on press of freedom and your intention and motivation is to silence and discourage journalists who criticise the government and comment on its policies.”
The notice requests an apology from the SAPM within 14 days, as well as an order to cease and desist from ‘exploiting or damaging’ Shirazi’s reputation. The notice also requests a sum of ten million rupees to be paid in damages.
It is not the first time members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have targeted the award winning journalist. Earlier this year, Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Political Communication Dr. Shabaz Gill had lambasted Asma Shirazi and her ‘stinking journalism,’ in a barrage of tweets.
At that time, the official PTI Twitter account had also directed a statement at Shirazi, It’s ironic that you got hurt by just one remark while you (being a woman) targeted a woman in an article you authored. This is extremely hypocritical!”
Various journalists and media groups have spoken out against the PTI’s repeated ‘trolling and harassment’ of Shirazi.