Pakistan fired the acting chief of its state-run television outlet this week over a caption during a live broadcast that said Prime Minister Imran Khan was “begging” for money during his recent visit to China.
Lt Colonel (retd) Hassan Immad Mohamedi sacked as the Managing Director of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) with immediate effect on orders of PM Imran Khan over China trip 'Begging' saga, 4 other staff shows the door for typo error, 3 more under investigation pic.twitter.com/eTc6PI8IIw
— Pakistan Media Watch (@PakPressWatch) November 6, 2018
The Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) issued an apology soon after it aired the live speech Sunday by PM Khan in China with a caption displaying the word “begging,” allegedly erroneously, instead of Beijing. Reuters reported that the caption ran on screen for 20-25 seconds.
PTV vowed to take “strict action” against those responsible, BBC learned on Monday. By Wednesday, Pakistan had fired the PTV acting chief.
Reuters revealed, “An official Ministry of Information order seen by Reuters said the ministry had withdrawn the services of Hasan Immad Mohammadi, who had served as acting managing director of Pakistan Television for just a matter of weeks.”
Pakistan’s information ministry denied that Mohammadi’s firing had anything to do with the alleged spelling error, claiming his removal was a “routine affair.”
Pakistan Media Watch, a group that monitors media outlets, suggested on Twitter that Islamabad also sacked four PTV staff members in addition to Mohammadi and is investigating three other employees.
PTI govt has started action against 5 PTV staff members for allegedly inserting a u-turn sign and typing 'Begging' at the location spot 4 live speech during a live address of the Prime Minister during his ongoing visit 2 China. Two staff have been taken off work immediately pic.twitter.com/vHcYsyXfx2
— Pakistan Media Watch (@PakPressWatch) November 4, 2018
The error triggered a debate on social media as to whether it was deliberate.
Someone on the news team accidentally mistyped IK’s location as “Begging” instead of “Beijing” and it’s honestly the most hilariously ironic thing ever. pic.twitter.com/ppkzlvROBV
— Izh@R khAN (@Shahrukh294Rukh) November 4, 2018
“Khan has criticized Pakistan’s many international bailouts and decried previous leaders as roaming the world with a begging bowl,” Reuters noted.
The PM traveled to China, Pakistan’s top ally, to seek billions in additional aid to help avert a financial crisis.
BBC pointed out:
On Saturday, China said it had agreed to “firmly move forward” with infrastructure projects in Pakistan following meetings between Mr Khan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. During his official visit to China, the world’s second largest economy, Mr Khan also met President Xi Jinping. China has invested tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan in recent years as part of its Belt and Road Initiative – which aims to link the economies of Asia, Africa and Europe via huge infrastructural projects.
Economists believe Islamabad is facing grave economic challenges as it struggles to prevent a financial crisis and keep its troubled economy afloat.
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday claimed that “Pakistan’s immediate balance of payment crisis is over,” adding the Saudi loan combined with unspecified aid pledged by Beijing had shored up foreign currency reserves.