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Former anchor reaches National Assembly body against PTV chief

By: Jamal Shahid

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday set aside its 11-point routine agenda to discuss a legal dispute between a TV anchor and the managing director of PTV over their matrimonial status.

At the heart of the dispute is a minor boy which Ayesha Sana claims to be the son of PTV managing director Yousuf Baig Mirza but disowned by the latter.

Alleging that she had been wronged by her ex-husband Yousuf Baig Mirza, Ayesha has requested the committee to provide her justice after she exhausted all other avenues, including the court, where she filed the case for maintenance for the child in August 2011 and was still waiting for a decision.

The host of a morning show on PTV, she particularly sought recognition for her son she had with her former husband, the MD PTV, when they were married from June 21, 2003, till May 5, 2012. She also took up the issue of how she was illegally sacked from the PTV by its managing director.

Why the standing committee took up the case and how it would go about solving it was not clear especially when it did not have the jurisdiction to take up personal cases.
According to Tariq Mehmood, an advocate of Supreme Court, standing committees were not the forums to take up individual grievances.

“There are other forums for such matters. The standing committees cannot get sacked people reinstated. The maximum a committee can do is referring the case to the concerned department for consideration,” said Mr Mehmood.

Nonetheless, chairman of the committee MNA Riaz Fatyana said the committee had taken up the case since a woman’s rights at workplace had been violated by misusing authority. “And we will also look into the matter that the child was not denied his rights,” he said.

Ayesha’s case took up most of the time of the discussions although it was not in the meeting agenda. “Every single human right has been violated in her case,” said MNA Dr Attiay Inayatullah, adding that it was shameful that an educated and professional woman be treated in such a manner.

Ayesha had the support of all seven women parliamentarians. The meeting was informed that Ayesha married Yousuf Baig Mirza in June 2003. Both had married for the second time. “We were living in the UK for some time and then returned to Karachi, where I started hosting a morning show on PTV,” Ayesha told the meeting.

According to the former TV host, it was after 2006 that her husband started disowning their marriage and spreading the word that the two were no longer together. Her husband completely disassociated himself from her and the newborn son once she returned from the US after her delivery in November 2011.

“Yousuf Baig Mirza fired me from my job with PTV when he became the MD for the second time in 2007. Later in 2009, I was offered to host a morning show by PTV Lahore. But I was fired again when he became the MD of the state-owned channel in 2010 for the third time,” she told the MNAs.

She complained how no other channel was giving her work or helping project her story.“My press conference on July 19, 2012, in Lahore was ineffective. Despite heavy media representation, TV channels and newspapers did not highlight my case,” she said, alleging that her efforts to highlight her case on the social media were in one way or the other obstructed.

After Ayesha presented two thick files of evidence of her marriage with Yousuf Baig Mirza, MNA Riaz Fatyana read out loud the DNA report from the DNA Worldwide, UK, that said: “Based on analysis of test results, it is practically proven that Yousuf Baig Mirza is the biological father of the child Mohammad Mustafa Mirza.” MNA Fatyana directed the secretary of the committee to summon Yousuf Baig Mirza to the next meeting on January 9.

MNA Kashmala Tariq insisted that experts from the Federal Shariat Court or Council of Islamic Ideology be also invited for their opinion on the matter. Three out of the seven women parliamentarians, including Jamila Gillani, in the meeting rejected the idea of representation from religious offices.

“It is not advisable to involve the Council of Islamic Ideology or the Federal Shariat Court. This might worsen the case,” said MNA Gillani. Her request was turned down after MNA Riaz Fatyana took a vote on the issue. The committee will also invite medical experts from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and the law division.