Tuesday Jan 03, 2023
LONDON: A senior Pakistan military officer sued a UK-based YouTuber and retired army officer for defamation and damages at the London High Court — for running a defamatory campaign against him on YouTube and Twitter.
Allegations were levelled about him being involved in election rigging against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), doing horse-trading for General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and holding secret meetings with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to manipulate Punjab by-elections.
The unprecedented defamation action by any serving Pakistani military officer ever at the UK High Court has been taken by the military officer — currently serving in Punjab — against Major (retd) Raja over nearly a dozen YouTube and Twitter publications carrying false and ludicrous allegations, according to evidence seen by Geo News.
According to the court papers, Major (retd) Raja started his campaign against the serving military brigadier on June 14, 2022, when he in a tweet accused the senior military officer “has taken complete occupation of the Lahore High Court" to rig the upcoming elections.
On June 19, 2022, Major (retd) Raja alleged that the "sector commander had several meetings with Zardari during the latter's current stay in Lahore."
The subject stated: "Elections Manipulation” and he went on to post a link to his YouTube video making further allegations.
The court papers also show that the serving military brigadier filed a case in the court through his UK lawyers on August 11, 2022, after the retired major levelled several allegations against the senior military officer in tweets and videos that became viral, gaining thousands of retweets, likes and views.
The defendant Major (retd) Raja confirmed to Geo News: “The serving military brigadier has filed a defamation case against me.”
Lawyers have told the UK High Court that Major (retd) Raja “conducted a determined and prolific social media campaign against the claimant publishing very many Tweets and videos, many of which are seriously defamatory of the claimant, and all of which, by reason of their content, tone and frequency, have caused the claimant serious harm”.
In the vlog, Major (retd) Raja accused the serving military officer of controlling huge funds to ensure Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) victory in Punjab and Pakistan through manipulation and using corrupt means.
He also accused the serving military brigadier of meeting Zardari to ensure a maximum number of seats in Punjab so that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could be helped.
In further tweets, Major (retd) Raja accused the military officer of being involved in politics and “horse-trading" for General (retd) Bajwa; registering fake cases against him in Punjab; and being an agent of the regime change plan.
In his defamation claim, the senior military officer has denied each and every allegation against him as false and told the court that he had suffered serious harm to his reputation and was likely to suffer further harm in the future.
The claimant has challenged each and every broadcast by Major (retd) Raja — based on undisclosed sources and ‘silent soldiers’ — while informing the court that the information published was fake, baseless and there was no justification to publish such news which had no basis in truth and facts.
Major (retd) Raja reached London from Islamabad in April last year following reports that he had gone missing from Islamabad.
He left Pakistan after developing differences with his own former organisation and since then he has done several controversial broadcasts making allegations about a “regime change” conspiracy, naming several serving military officers.
Major (retd) Raja told Geo News that his tweets and vlogs were based on the information “provided by highly placed sources within the Pakistani establishment”.
He said it was regrettable that the claimant had filed a case “against his fellow officer and countryman on foreign land”. Major (retd) Raja also claimed that his broadcasts were made in the “public interest” and that he had kept in mind the journalistic code of conduct.
The serving military brigadier is represented by Dawn Solicitors from Slough Berkshire and Major (retd) Raja is represented by solicitor Mahtab Anwar Aziz — the same lawyer who had announced in November last year that Scotland Yard would arrest PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Nasir Butt for plotting to assassinate PTI chief Imran Khan and slain journalist Arshad Sharif but the London police have said it has not initiated an investigation based on the complaints filed by Mahtab Aziz and his client Syed Tasnim Haider.