For a Pakistani journalist, who is very much interested in politics, to proclaim that in his regular column is a shocking admission. And it must seem so to those interested in politics.
But there it is: I do not believe in audio/video tape contents, unless the people appearing in the tape themselves verify the content, and its background. This does not mean that I will reject footage which shows a mugger taking away cash from someone and on his resistance, he shoots at and injures/kills him. Such video tapes have flooded the social media platforms and almost every WhatsApp group shares such stuff. TikTok account holders have also seen an opportunity with the mobile phone cameras and they are coming up with original or act-up footage.
Even though we are living in the age of digital media, I am still skeptical about the authenticity of the audio/video clips.
Maybe I will be an outcast.
Not a fan of viral clips?
Heck, I have grown up seeing an evolution of the digital media from VCR to cassette players, DVD, computers, laptops and now mobile phones. As a kid I had an interest in music and cartoon cassettes. I have read a few articles and watched a few news packages in recent years about the evolution of the digital media but they have not made me a fan of the modern tools.
That’s where it ends. But the world starts from here, and right now at the time of writing this piece on Monday, 2:00pm, I can see every TV channel repeating an audio tape purportedly featuring a property tycoon Malik Riaz and his daughter.
Does it qualify to be a piece worth a lead story?
Taking the cover of the tape, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders have started shelling at the former first lady and her friend Farah Khan, calling the scam as “Asia’s largest money-laundering scandal”.
Come on, dear PML-N, oh sorry, my journalist friends.
The PML-N may call it whatever it pleases, but why are we running the tape as purported evidence of the “corruption” of Bushra Bibi and Farah Khan?
I bet the readers have heard the tape, and it is saved on their mobile phones too.
Let us play the clip, and we hear a woman (stated to be the daughter of Malik Riaz) tell her father that Farah Khan called her that the first lady had refused to accept a three-carat diamond ring for it being a three-carat, “an ordinary object”.
What’s she asking for?
It emerges that the daughter has received a request or order for a five-carat ring, The ring would cost Malik Riaz Rs10 million. Just Rs10 million. If the deal is done, “your (Malik Riaz’s) appointment (with Farah) has been set for Saturday.
Rs10 million – is it a big deal for Malik Riaz? Not at all.
Both agree to arrange the ring so that things move smoothly. Malik Riaz wants the resumption of work on his housing society in Peshawar, while the other party wants to have a five-carat diamond ring.
But the person who is recording the whole conversation has their own plans.
Now, someone wants to name and shame Imran Khan after the release of the clip.
Malik Riaz has rejected the clip.
The PTI has rejected the clip.
The media says ‘it could not verify the content of the audio clip independently’.
As I said earlier, the media should not run the story, whose origin is unknown. The media should have contacted Malik Riaz and Imran Khan for their versions on the story. An independent investigation should have been launched. But nothing happened.
And the story goes on.