Asia - Pacific

Pakistan challenges credibility of BBC report

Government demands apology, removal of story alleging rights abuses by army

Islamuddin Sajid   | 19.06.2019
Pakistan challenges credibility of BBC report

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

Pakistan filed formal complaints Tuesday over a report published this month by U.K. state broadcaster BBC documenting alleged human rights abuses in the country’s tribal areas. 

The Ministry of Information filed complaint letters with the British communications regulator and BBC raising questions over the authenticity of the story regarding Pakistan’s military. 

On June 2, the BBC published a report on its website titled "Uncovering Pakistan's secret human rights abuses" which said tens of thousands of people have been killed during Pakistan’s long battle with militants as part of the post -9/11 war on terror and that many of them were tortured and murdered by soldiers and insurgents in Waziristan, a tribal district in northwestern Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.

"The story not only presented a fabricated theme but also violated journalistic ethos. The story also violates BBC's editorial policy by not incorporating the point of view of all stakeholders/citing credible sources/quoting authentic evidence etc.," the ministry said in its letter addressed to the BBC

It amounted to “indicting the State of Pakistan for so-called ‘secret human rights abuses’ without any cogent evidence”.

"The detailed analysis of its content reflects bias, spinning and angling of the facts. There are judgmental expressions in the story which are a clear violation of journalistic norms of impartiality and objectivity," said the ministry’s letter.

The government of Pakistan expects the matter to be looked into for appropriate action against the author and editorial board linked to the report.

Pakistan also demanded that the BBC remove the “defamatory and malicious” story and issue a clear-cut apology.

"We also expect the BBC authorities to ensure that in future, such fake stories specifically targeting Pakistan will not be disseminated," said the letter.

However, Pakistan also warned the BBC that Islamabad reserves the right to pursue all legal measures within the country and the United Kingdom if the BBC fails to retract the story and take action against its author.

A dossier accompanying the letter contained further analysis of the government’s complaints.

On June 4, Pakistan’s military also reacted to the BBC story.

"The story carries conjecturing implicating Pakistan’s Army without any proof,” Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan’s army, said in a statement.

"The story is a pack of lies and in violation of journalistic ethos," it added.

North Waziristan has been a battleground between the army and the Taliban since June 2014 following a full-scale military onslaught that has killed over 5,000 suspected militants, according to the military.

Over 700 soldiers have also lost their lives in landmine blasts and clashes with the Taliban during the period.

On March 28, the BBC apologized and agreed to pay damages to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over an incorrect report claiming a payment was made to extend a meeting between Poroshenko and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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