Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has sent an official legal notice to Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera over a video article they published regarding allegations made by MNA Ayesha Gulalai, that Imran Khan had been harassing her through inappropriate text messages.
The video in question was published on Al Jazeera’s online-only website, ‘AJ+’ which has gained international recognition for its short video features which focuses on all kinds of news from around the world.
After receiving inappropriate text messages from a prominent politician, this lawmaker accused him of harassment. pic.twitter.com/ALIzPUJxAG
— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 21, 2017
According to the Pre-Action Defamation Protocol letter sent to Al Jazeera on November 23, a copy of which was posted by the PTI’s official Twitter account, “The article published on the internet and hosted by your AJ+ website contains serious, untrue, and highly defamatory comments towards our client, some of which contain malicious falsehoods.”
The letter, sent through the Wentworth Solicitors, is not a lawsuit against the publisher of the video article but is a clear bearing of fangs and a legal threat of further action. It has been pursued under the Civil Procedure Rules Pre-Action Protocol for Claims in Defamation and is “intended to encourage exchange of information between ourselves at an early stage and to provide a clear framework in which we, acting in good faith on our client’s behalf in this defamation case, can explore the early and appropriate resolution of this claim.”
— PTI (@PTIofficial) November 23, 2017
Strictly speaking, in legal terms, the notice sent at this stage holds no legal significance and is a procedural formality in which the claimant hopes to settle the matter out of court through alternative dispute resolution methods. However, given the nature of both parties, they will most likely wish to see the matter solved publicly, as is being indicated by the complete official lack of response coming from Al Jazeera and AJ+.
While the claim is still in its incubation stage at this point, some indicators show that the PTI chairman’s arguments may not be very strong. For one, it seems that the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ has given Imran an appetite for a positive global impression and an aversion to anything negative. This seems to be why he is missing the fact that the story by Al Jazeera was a narration of events as their general format is, and what was reported was not much different from what had been reported nationally. Secondly, the letter specifically says about the comments in the story that “some of which contain malicious falsehoods.”
The only such falsehood that the letter points out is, as quoted in the letter, that “Your article expressly mentions our client as Opposition politician Imran Khan. Our client is Chairman and leader of PTI political party of Pakistan which is based in Islamabad.”