KARACHI: The airing of three leaked interrogation videos of two high-profile suspects by TV channels in as many days finally caught the attention of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who on Saturday termed the act “illegal and unethical” and asked the Sindh government to find out which investigating agency was behind the leaks.
“The cases would be decided in courts and not through a media trial,” he said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
“Such kind of coverage weakens the cases [of the prosecution]instead of strengthening them.”
But his announcement did not impress a senior PPP leader, who recalled that Chaudhry Nisar himself was going to commit such an “illegal and unethical act” when he threatened to make public Dr Asim Hussain’s interrogation video.
On Wednesday and Thursday, TV channels broadcast two video statements of former minister for petroleum Dr Asim in which he was seen levelling serious allegations against former president Asif Zardari and his foster brother Owais Muzaffar aka Tappi.
And on Friday, a 37-second video statement of Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Minhaj Qazi was aired in which he implicated a former provincial lawmaker in the 18-year-old Hakim Said murder case.
Earlier, a video statement of Saulat Mirza, the convicted killer of former managing director of the Karachi Electric Supply Company Shahid Hamid, and another of Khalid Shamim, one of the three held suspects in the MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq murder case, have mysteriously made their way to the media.
Saulat Mirza’s statement was aired hours before his scheduled hanging in March 2015 from his death cell in Mach Jail in Balochistan and as a result the interior ministry approached the president and got his execution postponed. However, he was executed in May 2015 and till to date no one knows who made the video and leaked it to the media.
In his statement, the interior minister said that the airing of videos of “under investigation” held suspects was an illegal and unethical act.
He said that the federal government was writing a letter to the Sindh government to launch a probe to know which investigation agency was involved in leaking the interrogation videos.
Mr Khan also said that the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority was also being asked to evolve a mechanism for curbing such incidents.
Reacting to his statement, senior Senator Saeed Ghani of the PPP told Dawn that Chaudhry Nisar should start the investigation from himself as it was he who first threatened to make public the video recording of Dr Asim’s interrogation as well as a report of the joint investigation team.
“He [Nisar] should tell us as to who had given him Dr Asim’s video and how,” he said.
On Dec 12 last year, a furious Chaudhry Nisar accused the PPP-led Sindh government of sabotaging the Karachi operation “to save just one man” and threatened to make public a video of Dr Asim and a confidential investigation report.
Mr Ghani, who is the PPP’s parliamentary party leader in the Senate, believed that the interior minister himself leaked the videos and now he was moving just to save himself.
He said that it was ridiculous to ask the Sindh government to investigate as to who had leaked the videos since a similar video of suspect Khalid Shamim had been made when he was in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency, which comes under the direct control of the interior minister.
In April, Chaudhry Nisar had ordered a probe into the leaked video of Khalid Shamim in which the suspect alleged that MQM chief Altaf Hussain was involved in Dr Farooq’s murder. However, the inquiry findings, if any, were yet to be made public.
A spokesman for the MQM termed Chaudhry Nisar’s statement an attempt “to hoodwink the nation”. “Chaudhry Nisar is the minister of interior and Rangers are his subordinate institution. He knows well that the Rangers are releasing the video statements of under-custody suspects to the media at whose behest.”
He said in a statement that Chaudhry Nisar had ordered an inquiry into the leaked videos of Saulat Mirza and Khalid Shamim but no one knew what happened to the two inquiries.
The spokesman asked the interior minister to take action against officials of the Rangers for holding the media trial.