Axact and Bol: Damaging the reputation and minds of Pakistan

February 13, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan

Reuters photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

 

Axact and the Bol TV network are involved in the worst scandals that have occurred in the last decade in Pakistan. Axact, the information technology company of the Bol media group, sold more than 30 thousand fake degrees online across the globe. Moreover, this company was also involved in the pornography industry as well. The company’s face, CEO and Chairman, Shoaib Shaikh, who is currently running a media house as well, is surprisingly running a TV channel spreading hate speech and fake news in the country. A criminal whose money was earned through the illegitimate business of selling fake degrees and pornography is still roaming freely despite the fact that this scandal brought shame to the country across the globe.

Shoaib Shaikh was arrested when Declan Walsh broke the story of Axact selling the fake degrees and his TV channel was not allowed to launch, but with his connections in the corridors of power, he not only managed to get bail but also launched the TV channel as well. This story of Shoaib Shaikh and his business empire built on black money is an example of how the powerful easily break laws and amend the system to their advantage, never being held responsible for their crimes.

 

Axact was a famous information technology company in Pakistan which was contributing nearly 60 percent of the IT revenue from abroad. Their salary structure and perks provided to their employees were unmatched in the country. Though a few well informed people knew that the company was running pornography websites, no one had a clue that their core business was selling fake degrees also.

The famous journalist Declan Walsh broke the story about the illegal business of Axact in 2015 which eventually resulted in the closure of the company and the arrest of Shoaib Shaikh. During his days in the Federal Investigation Agency Shoaib Shaikh was given VIP protocol. The prosecutor of the FIA, who was instrumental in building a strong case against Shaikh, was threatened and even his house was attacked with a hand grenade. As a result Zahid Jamil left the case at a crucial stage and Shoaib Shaikh was given bail. After a few years the judge disclosed that he took a bribe to release Shaikh.

Up to the time of the judge’s confession, it was too late; Shoaib Shaikh had already launched the Bol TV network and became untouchable. The question arises; when Shaikh was running a pornography business and selling fake degrees, what were the intelligence agencies doing? Certainly they were not unaware of the dark business of Shaikh and Axact. Even after Axact was exposed by Declan Walsh, why was Shoaib Shaikh allowed to launch a TV channel? Who were the invisible forces backing Shoaib Shaikh and who was responsible for putting pressure on the government, law enforcement agencies and the courts to not further proceed with the case of Axact?

It is not difficult to understand who is actually on the back of Shoaib Shaikh. If you want to understand, just tune in to Bol TV, the channel claims to be the defender of Pakistan’s ideological fronts and focuses on maligning politicians and anyone who disagrees with the established narratives. Certificates of patriotism and allegations of treason and contempt are distributed on a regular basis from the channel.

This TV channel also spread fake news and hate speech in the name of investigative journalism and ran news which only created confusion among the masses. The hate speech is the most dangerous crime and unfortunately we as a society do not recognize this fact. It is easy to understand that the people and organizations involved in the scariest crimes of hate speech really believe that what they are doing is right and everyone else is wrong, but as a society we need to stand up and say no to hate speech as it is  producing minds full of hatred and extremism.

Another strange thing is the revenue generation, Bol TV does not run advertisements yet it pays some of the highest perks and privileges to its employees and possesses state of the art television equipment which even the most powerful media houses in Pakistan cannot afford. Sadly the business of spreading lies, propaganda, hatred and extremism is all done under the umbrella of journalism. What Shoaib Shaikh is doing through his television channel is a business of yellow journalism and undermining democracy by portraying his television network as the representative of the ethical, moral and ideological fronts of the country.

This is the height of hypocrisy that a TV channel whose IT company has been involved in the business of pornography and fake degrees is giving lectures on corruption and morals. Shoaib Shaikh is backed by powerful hands and also enjoys the support of the black sheep of journalism as well. Such is his power that even the Chief Justice of Pakistan, while listening to the case of Axact a few days ago, first ordered that Shoaib Shaikh’s name be placed on the exit control list, but upon the pressure of journalists present there the honorable Chief Justice had to withdraw his order.

 

Even the Pakistan Broadcasters Association requested the court investigate the matter of Axact and Bol, and that Shoaib Shaikh should not be allowed to run the TV channel. But to date there is no hope of bringing this culprit to justice. Unfortunately people within the journalistic community are of the view that Bol should not be banned as it offers employment to hundreds of people associated with this network.

This is a very weak and irrational reason for a few journalists to support this argument as if this precedence is fixed then one cannot even ban any land mafia, illegal alcohol business, pornography business, brothels, or illegal drug businesses, as there are also thousands of people whose employment are associated with these, and by bringing the owner of the businesses to law or closing them also means the loss of the jobs for the people associated with it.

The media is a very important tool to educate the masses and is helpful in granting them their fundamental right of “access to information”. But unfortunately there are lot of people who have obtained the licenses of television channels and newspapers to turn their black money into white and to work on the agenda of destabilization of democracy and polarization of society.

The sitting Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif was sacked by the Supreme Court on the allegation that he was guilty of hiding his assets in the nomination papers and thus he is not an honest and ethical man, one Judge, Asif Saeed Khosa in his controversial remarks, used the famous quote from the Godfather novel that “Behind every big fortune there is a crime.” Whether or not Sharif earned his fortune through illegal means still remains a question but he had to face the music only on this particular doubt.

Contrary to that the case of Axact and Bol TV is an open and shut one. The fortune Shoaib Shaikh earned is as a result of a proven crime. This case is a test for our judiciary system as to whether or not the judiciary is free from the pressure of invisible forces. This case is only the tip of the iceberg and if the court can conduct a proper investigation many powerful hands behind Shoaib Shaikh will be exposed.

The important thing in this case is not about Shaikh but the hidden hands behind him. Shoaib Shaikh is just a pawn and punishing him or banning his television channel will not stop the powerful forces operating behind the scenes to launch another pawn like him. The nexus of Shoaib Shaikh needs to be exposed and should be brought to justice so the practice of using media for own advantages be stopped.

Frederick Douglas said that “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” So now is the time that the honorable court must bring the culprit of the Axact scandal and hate speech to justice so we can set an example for everyone that no one is above the law and no one is allowed to spread hate speech in the guise of the media. After all, it is easy to build strong and analytical minds and a society than to repair the damaged ones.

 

 

 

 

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.

 

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