The Pakistani government on Tuesday filed formal complaints with the British communications regulator and state-broadcaster BBC for publishing a story on June 2 documenting alleged human rights abuses in the tribal areas.
The BBC report published on June 2, titled Uncovering Pakistan’s secret human rights abuses, looks into Pakistan’s long battle with militants as part of the post-9/11 “war on terror” and carries the accounts of locals as well as the top leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Manzoor Pashteen.
A letter of complaint issued by the External Publicity Wing of the Information Ministry acquired by DawnNewsTV stated that BBC English and BBC Urdu both had published a story which “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,” it continued, adding that 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 facts. There are judgemental expressions in the story which are a clear violation of journalistic norms of impartiality and objectivity,” the letter said.
The government requested that the matter be looked into for “appropriate action against the author and editorial board linked to the story”. Additionally, it demanded that BBC remove “this defamatory and malicious story and issue a clear-cut apology”.
It warned that it retains the right to pursue all legal options in Pakistan or the UK if BBC authorities fail to retract the “libellous and defamatory story and take action against its writer”.
The complaint stated that the government expects BBC to “abide by its editorial policy and journalists ethos in the future”; that the British Office of Communications (OfCom) will look into the response on the content of the mala-fide, incorrect and misleading content of the story and take measures as per the BBC’s editorial guidelines 1.2.11; and that BBC will ensure that “such fake stories specifically targeting Pakistan” will not be published.
A dossier accompanying the letter, which was addressed to both the Ofcom and the BBC, contained further analysis and a breakdown of the government’s complaints against it
More details to follow.