ISLAMABAD – Ahmad Noorani, a reporter for English daily ‘The News’ has issued an apology for writing an inaccurate story suggesting that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) investigating the offshore assets of Sharif family had not found the premier guilty of any wrongdoing in its report.
Titled “Panama JIT ‘doesn’t find PM guilty,’ but his sons”, the story published on July 10 hours before the actual investigation report was made public said that the JIT had “at no place” held the prime minister responsible for any illegal activity.
Quoting “sources close to the JIT”, the news story had claimed that the JIT had connected Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hassan Nawaz — to their family’s failure to provide evidence concerning the transfer of funds to London.
The reporter Ahmad Noorani also drew the ire of three-member bench of Supreme Court that was hearing the case regarding implementation of Panama case judgment for his story as the apex court issued contempt of court notice to him, Editor-in-Chief of The News Mir Shakilur Rahman and Printer Mir Javed Rahman.
Visibly upset over the stories published by the newspaper and in particular by the reporter, Justice Ejaz Afzal was outraged that the reporter called the sitting judge of the court on landline.
The judge said: “I told him that judges speak in the courtroom and through their judgment.” Justice Ejaz said that this constituted outright contempt.
However, as the story bounced back and the high-powered Joint Investigation Team submitted a report in flagrant contradiction with the observation of reporter, Ahmad Noorani preferred to apologize.
In his apology, that is being widely shared on social media, the reporter admitted that the particular part of his story “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not held responsible for any wrongdoing,” was completely wrong.
The apology published on the front page of The News‘ July 12 edition states that Ahmad was accused of deliberately filing a false story to please the prime minister and his family.
“I did clearly write that the Sharifs failed to prove the money trail. It is ridiculous and absurd to suggest that any such report, which is going to be proven wrong within a few hours, will be ‘made up’ simply to support the Sharif family,” the apology said.
“As a professional journalist, I do understand that the story has hurt my readers as well as my own credibility,” it said.
Noorani regretted in his apology what he called a “vilification campaign” started against him and the Jang Group after the JIT report was made public, especially on social media.
“Human beings make errors and I am no exception,” he concluded.