The Chief Executive Officer,
The Express News,
Subject: 30-Day Notice to resign from Express News Television, Express Media
Dear Mr Yousuf Baig Mirza,
This is after detailed exchange of messages and telephonic conversation between us today, Monday 21 April 2014, and your refusal to allow my program, Achha Lagey Bura Lagey, on the attack on Hamid Mir, a leading journalist and colleague, threats to freedom of media/expression and the need for media solidarity, etc,. that were to go live at 07.03 pm from Lahore station, that I am constrained to issue you this 30-day notice to resign from the Express News as a host/analyst of Achaha Lagey Bura Lagey in protest against imposing censorship and adopting a policy hostile to freedom of expression and media solidarity-in-self-defense.
The Express Media’s top management got disturbed, as I was told, by the principled position taken by me in solidarity with a colleague who was attacked in Karachi. The points for today’s program sent by me to you were appreciated by you: Following were the issues for discussion:
“Hamid Mir: issues are: right to life and social contract, freedom of speech, security of journalists and a culture of impunity, fate of enquiry commissions, professional ethics, media debates (attack on media or on sensitive institutions), ISPR’s reaction—editorial note: Need for caution and restraint; letting due process take place without prejudging or maligning any person or institution”.
Since you were keen to run a vilification campaign against another rival media group, you insisted on pre-recording the program so that you could censor it, knowing well that I abhorred censorship. I had told you that it was a wrong policy which would damage the whole media; it was Express TV/Express Tribune yesterday when Raza Rumi was attacked and I got death threats, on which equally despicably some media groups kept quiet, it is GEO today and tomorrow it could again be Express or any other group.
You know that I am against vilification of any person or institution and could never pre-judge any accused without investigation, nor could I ever use Express platform to serve anybody’s interest. Since you had other plans on the behest of somebody else to launch a campaign against your rival media group and I could never become an instrument in such a shoddy business, you preferred to plan an obnoxious program against all media ethics telecasted in place of the one I was supposed to host.
You are aware that I have been struggling for my whole life for fundamental rights, freedom of expression, free press, professional ethics, tolerance, peace and cooperation in the region. How could I become an instrument in such a sordid business and you knew it. You could have waited for two days when I was supposed to go on leave on 23 April, but it seemed you were under great pressure from somewhere else. I don’t want to cast aspersions, but I think the Express has been pressurized or followed its instincts of rivalry, as had happened in the case of Express Tribune when the Editor had to send a letter to his contributors not to write against extremists. It was Taliban threat in the case of Express Tribune, it is somebody else who made you take a decision even you appreciably didn’t like. I may warn you in a most friendly spirit against the consequences of this policy which is against not only whole media but also against Express Media. I may assure you that whenever Express Media came under pressure from any quarter you would find me on your side. This has not happened for the first time. A few weeks ago my talk-show Baibaak was also stopped on PTv, which I had started during the caretaker period.
Let’s part ways in an honorable manner and according to our legal obligations. My dear Baig Sahib, kindly accept this 30-day notice of resignation from hosting the program Achha Lagey Bura Lagey with a request for not bringing a bad name to a show that was quite credible. I will be available to do this program if you so like during this period of resignation but without restrictions.
My best regards with a wish that you don’t play into the hands of those who are bent upon undermining freedoms and democratic values.
Host/Analyst AchHA Lagey Bura Lagey,
Express TV, Express Media