ARY News Slammed For Blurring Imran Khan In IMF Meeting Photo

ARY News Slammed For Blurring Imran Khan In IMF Meeting Photo
Former Pakistani prime minister and chairman of the beleaguered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan met with an IMF team yesterday (Friday) at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, as other participants joined in virtually. However, news of the meeting - and of PTI's support to the recent IMF Stand-By Arrangement deal with the PDM government - was presented in a peculiar fashion by ARY News, a mainstream electronic news channel in Pakistan.

In its headlines, the channel showed a picture of the PTI chairman sitting with IMF country representative Esther Perez and PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi. But, in a move that is being widely criticised on social media, the former premier was blurred out of the image. His shoe, however, can still be seen, and the awkward distance between Perez and Qureshi is also visible.

While undue censorship, self-imposed or enforced by powerful authorities, is a direct attack on the free media and the right to free expression, netizens could not help but poke fun at PTI supporters using the hashtag #ShameOnARY – since they venerated the same news platform for promoting their party ideology, agenda and narratives up until May 9.

ARY News had come under frequent criticism from opponents of the PTI, particularly PMLN vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who shamed the news channel on Twitter and called it a "mouthpiece of PTI".

Now, PTI supporters on social media are calling for a boycott of ARY News and its entertainment channels, with the hashtag #BoycottARY trending on Twitter as of the filing of this report.

Absar Alam Haider, former journalist who has served as chairman of Pakistan's electronic media regulator PEMRA, did not miss this opportunity to berate the owner of ARY News for sacrificing journalistic credibility at the altar of expediency and profit.

Sabir Shakir, who had worked as ARY News' bureau chief in Islamabad and hosted the news show 'The Reporters', remarked that his channel's action reflected the existence of an "undeclared dictatorship".

Venture capitalist Najam Ali pointed out that ARY News blurring out Imran Khan was "messaging for the electorate" that does influence bureaucrats and electables even if it doesn't work on the public at large. "People who do this know why this is useful no matter how silly or undemocratic it may appear," Najam Ali tweeted.