The meltdown in Pakistan continues. One by one, its key institutions are drowning in a tidal wave of sleaze. The political parties lost all moral authority years ago; now judges and journalists are under scrutiny for dodgy dealings.
The New York Times reports on these latest scandals, including corruption charges against the family of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and a scam threatening the credibility of one of Pakistan’s biggest television channels:
For now, the scandal is focused on Dunya News, a major television channel. On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry of Dunya after it broadcast an interview with Malik Riaz Hussain, a real estate developer who claims to have given $3.7 million in bribes to Chief Justice Chaudhry’s son Arsalan Iftikhar in the hope of swaying court cases.
What shocked ordinary Pakistanis was not the interview — Mr. Hussain had already made similar accusations in court — but rather evidence that it had been rigged. Leaked studio footage, shot just before the program went live and during breaks, showed the hosts, Meher Bokhari and Mubashir Luqman, chatting cozily with Mr. Hussain, discussing the questions and priming his answers. “Why don’t you start talking about it yourself, otherwise it will seem planted, which it is,” Ms. Bokhari is seen telling him in Urdu.
Since regulations on television ownership were relaxed in 2007, the industry seemed to be one of the few bright spots in Pakistani civil society, shining a spotlight on the cesspool of Pakistani politics. In 2007, the media’s coverage of demonstrations against the military-led government of former President Pervez Musharraf was considered instrumental in Musharraf’s downfall.
To be sure, this latest scandal isn’t the first blemish on Pakistan’s Fourth Estate. Editorial independence is often compromised on behalf of the owners of the stations, and extremist demagogues are given platforms to propagate their bilious views.
But with corruption and over-the-top self seeking now credibly attributed to judges and journalists as well as the country’s notoriously short-fingered politicians, it is hard to see where a Pakistani turnaround could begin.