Agha Iftikhar Ahmad, (Urdu: اغا افتخار احمد; November 30, 1950 — ), is a Pakistani research journalist and an active political activist. Ahmad started his career in 1980, after his released and joined Jang Media Network and since then, he occupied a senior position in the Network. Ahmad is currently serving as Director of Elections, Investigations, Special Projects, and Research (EISPAR) for the Geo News Network (GNN). Iftikhar Ahmad is also hosting the popular Geo Network's interview show Jawab Deyh (or in English "Answerable!") on Geo TV.
With over 30 years of experience and very extensive research, Iftikhar Ahmad is known for his incisive and aggressive style of journalism.
Early life and education
Born in 1950, Ahmad was educated in Lahore, West-Pakistan. He attended Central Model High School. At there, he became politically active and also managed to defeat his opponent by a large margin in school elections for presidency at Central Model High school and, he achieved this feat while he was still in Grade 8 whereas his opponent came from 10th Grade. Ahmad spent quite some time of his childhood with his grandfather Hifzur Rehmann who was a very keen reader. Ahmad picked up the habit of reading books since a very young age, usually studying books on Political science. He was 15 when he along with his friend from the local library crossed a minefield on bicycle to kill Indian soldiers on Wagha border in the Indo-Pakistan 1965 September war.
In the end, he managed only to be fed alu gobhi from the military ration and sent back with an escort by the astonished Pakistani soldiers by Indian soldiers whMuhammedan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO) where he completed his oriental studies. During this same time, Ahmad at the age of 17, became a founding memberPakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
en he was apprehended. After the war, Ahmad went on to attend
Since 1967, Ahmad has been a political activist as well. He participated in the movement against military dictatorship reign of Field Marshal Ayub Khan.
His political philosophy was very much in line with the socialist ideas and he was mesmerized by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He wrote his undergraduate thesis advocating the socialist ideas and its role in modern societies. In 1973, Ahmad wrote his thesis supporting Bhutto's socialist economics policies and advocating for the need of socialism in the country. Ahmad served multiple jail terms under the martial law governments for various violations of LFO.[clarification needed] He was sent to the Sibbi Central Jail, Shahpur Central Jail, Camp Jail Lahore and the notorious Lahore Fort. Ahmad has also served as adviser to two Chief Minister and one Governor of Punjab. His political philosophy is that the real political divide is always between the poor and the rich. He argues that Pakistan may never see a leader better than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and a slogan better than "Roti, Kapra aur Makan".
Ahmad started his journalism career in 1980 and worked for various publications including Daily Aftab and Daily Pakistan. He has been working forDaily Jang since 1986. In the 1980s Ahmad introduced personal interviews of politicians; these were different in the way that for the first time politicians divulged private information as well. Ahmad through his interviews for Daily Jang set a new trend in Pakistani journalism.
Ahmad is also the brain behind Jang Group's Election Cell. He has run it with pride since 1988, and has covered more than five elections. He takes great pride in the accuracy of his results which are delivered to general public many hours before an official announcement is made. In this regard he is also credited[by whom?] with heading the 2002 election campaign where the Geo Election Cell became a flagship of the Geo brand. This live election telecast helped Geo take off with a bang.
Ahmad has also worked closely with the Geo News Admin and fellow friend and journalist Hamid Mir on the Zarra Sochiye campaign. A campaign which aimed to start debate on issues that divide us[who?], after the broadcast of the debate on Hudood Ordinance, the National assembly of Pakistan had to ratify the Hudood Ordinance.
Controversy: Pleading the case for Bhutto
Ahmad, through his program, Jawabdeh has questioned several key power players of the Coup d'état of (see Operation Fair Play) staged by General Zia-ul-Haq and the subsequent hanging of the then elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
In these interviews, some of these people, closely worked with General Zia-ul-Haq, spilled the beans about General Zia's real political intentions. In his programme, former Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, who was a member of the bench of Pakistan Supreme Court which upheld Bhutto's death sentence, admitted that he should have voted against the hanging and felt bad for not doing so. Justice Shah also admitted that there was not enough evidence to put Bhutto on death row. It was the political pressure by General Zia-ul-Haq that manipulated the decision. Those who voted against the decision, such as Justice Fakh-ruddin Abrahim and Justice Dourab Framroze Patel, General Zia-ul-Haq insulted them, and forcefully retired them from their services.
Ahmad has done at least 40 interviews which even though very relevant from an historical point but are seen by many[who?] as an attempt to absolve Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Due to the special attached to Bhutto, some analysts[who?] argue, undue attention paid, and thorough probing done by Ahmad, the certain lost period of Pakistan's history from 1977 to 1988. Due to his still continuous support to Bhutto, Ahmad has been labeled as a Bhutto loyalist, or a Bhuttoist.
He is said[by whom?] to have over-glorified Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and has been accused of trying to resurrect Bhutto by some senior politicians. The opponents also point out that Ahmad still maintains close relations with the Pakistan People Party, especially with the original members of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's cabinet.
His Interview of Naseem Hassan Shah led to the PPP to make the decision to file for the reopening of the case of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The interview also served as the basis of a lawsuit against Justice Naseem Hassan Shah in which the claimant claimed that after Justice Naseem Hassan Shah's admission in the interview that the decision to hang "Bhutto Sahib" had been forced upon them by Zia-ul-Haq.
Ahmad's Program and the Court Case
Perhaps the only time in Pakistan's' Judicial History that a petition against a Former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan was filed, seeking registration of a case against him on charges of abetting in the "murder" of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
One member of the bench remarked;
In a situation where the judgment of a case was effective for citation as a reference, an ambiguous statement of one of the members of a panel of judges hearing the case, could in no way prejudice the decision after two decades. If such things were allowed to happen, the whole judicial system would collapse.
Justice Hanif Tahir had quoted the former chief justice as saying in two of his press interviews that the Supreme Court judgment in the appeal of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto against his death sentence awarded by the Lahore High Court, was a wrong decision and it was a fit case for lesser punishment.
The petitioner submitted that, Justice Shah was part of the 7-member bench of the Supreme Court which upheld the death penalty. He contended that comments of the former chief justice amounted to a confessional statement and that he had shown no such sentiments while agreeing with the majority opinion of apex court's bench which confirmed the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The petitioner started with quotes from the interview of Justice Shah done by Iftikhar Ahmad. The court asked him if such quotes, taken from a television interview, carried any legal significance. When the petitioner submitted that the text of interview was a "public document", the court asked the lawyer to define the legality of public documents and remarked that points raised in the petition were based on hearsay.
As for petitioner's contention that Justice Shah had made a confessional statement in his interview, the court directed him to examine the relevant law to know what a confessional statement was and if it carried a legal weight if given on a non-judicial or extrajudicial forum. He must also differentiate between a press statement and a legal statement recorded in a court of law. The bench of the Lahore High Court on February 12, 2004 dismissed in limina.
Resignation in protest
It was reported 17 November 2008 that he resigned from Geo TV in protest over its refusal to broadcast his interview with Shahid Masood. He alleged that he was earlier pressured to censor certain portions of the said interview, which he declined.
The Geo TV administration retracted from their position and the complete interview was broadcast the following week. After the program went on air, Ahmad took back his resignation. Ahmad still insists that no compromises can be made where principles are concerned.