Monday Oct 04 2021
Web Desk

Fact check: Do the Pandora Papers name Maryam Nawaz's son Junaid Safdar?

Web Desk
Junaid Safdar (L) and his mother, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz. — Photo courtesy Twitter/PML-N
Junaid Safdar (L) and his mother, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz. — Photo courtesy Twitter/PML-N

Following the explosive revelations which came to the fore Sunday night in the Pandora Papers, featuring names of several PTI ministers as well Opposition members, news of the name of Junaid Safdar, the son of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz being included in the leaks began doing the rounds.

In response to the news, which was shared in a section of the media, Maryam Nawaz issued a statement saying that if the TV channel that ran the news does not apologise immediately, she will take them to court and file a defamation law suit.

Responding to a suggestion by someone to seek legal action in the UK, she said that if the UK desk aired it, the family will sue them there too.

Junaid himself issued a statement saying: "I will take legal action against news channels which said I have offshore companies. I have instructed my lawyers already. I don’t have any offshore company, I am a student and only have one bank account."

When Umar Cheema and Fakhar Durrani, the two journalists from The News who participated in the Pandora Papers investigation from Pakistan, were asked by Geo News regarding this, they said they did not come across Junaid Safdar's name during their investigation.

"We checked the names of each member of the Sharif family," Durrani said.

How did the government react?

At 11:02pm, hours after the Pandora Papers were made public, Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill tweeted a PTV news screenshot, which reported that Junaid Safdar's name was included in the leaks.

"Is it possible that there is an investigation of theft etc and Maryam baji is left behind? Never, ever!" Dr Gill wrote.

Dr Gill then broke the news on ARY News as well at 11:17pm, saying "Kabhi kabhi aap PTV ki report pe bhi trust kar liya karein [At times, maybe you can trust PTV's news reports as well]".

Interestingly, the anchor told Gill “don’t embarrass us, we are trusting you”. ARY News then, quoting PTV's report, broke the news of Junaid Safdar's name being included in the leaks too.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry followed suit and tweeted that he had heard of Junaid Safdar's companies.

He wrote that after news of an offshore company being named under Ali Dar, the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif, was revealed, the latest information is that there are five offshore companies in the name of Junaid Safdar, the son of Maryam Nawaz. "How much money does this family need?" Chauhdry asked in his tweet.

After the government officials came on air and highlighted the incorrect PTV report, other channels also picked it up, quoting the government ministers and PTV.

The PML-N leadership was then asked to give a clarification, which they did.

Maryam's political secretary, Zeeshan Malik, appeared on Geo News and debunked the news, saying that the government's channel and ARY News should be ashamed of running a fake news report.

The information minister is now saying that PTV never aired this news.