Ahmad Noorani is a Pakistani investigative journalist and co-founder of FactFocus, an investigative journalism platform focused on reporting about transparency, governance, and human rights.
Noorani, who started his journalism career in 2007, has produced some of the most consequential investigative reports that have brought some of Pakistan’s most powerful people into the dock for reasons that they usually don’t like. In August 2020 he released a report on the assets of Lt. General Asim Bajwa‘s family. In November 2021 he uploaded an audio clip attributed to former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Saqib Nisar in which he was talking with other unknown people about putting pressure on the sentences of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
Now once again, Noorani has stirred Pakistan’s most powerful quarters by releasing an explosive report that details how outgoing Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family amassed assets worth billions of rupees in a short span of six years.
The report, which Noorani released on his platform Fact Focus, is based on the leaked tax returns of Bajwa and his family. Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has ordered an investigation to find out how Bajwa and his family’s tax returns were leaked. Many, Noorani included, are reading Dar’s response to the leaks as a confirmation of the authenticity of the documents included in the report.
In his vlog, Noorani gives more insights into his reporting and defends his decision to release the report that has brought General Bajwa into the negative limelight.
Courtesy: Haqaiq Youtube channel
A side note:
While Noorani and his platform is receiving accolades, few seem to be willing to support the noble cause Noorani and his team are pursuing in search of truth and uncovering the true face of Pakistan’s most powerful people.
Fact Focus Pakistan launched a GoFundMe appeal on February 22, 2022, to raise 250,000 dollars to support its team’s investigative journalism. The public apathy is visible on his GofundMe page which says as of November 21, 2022, only 3,013 dollars were raised. Had Noorani produced such in-depth reporting for an audience in the US or elsewhere, he would have raised millions of dollars. But in Pakistan, his website was briefly shut down by the government after his report took social media by storm.
Not surprisingly, Pakistan’s media houses and journalist organizations kept a low-key mum just like the one they have maintained on the ongoing unprecedented press censorship and murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif. Reporters Sans Frontiers condemned the shutdown of FactFocus hours after the reports started pouring in of the government’s action against Noorani’s online platform on Monday.
📣Unacceptable censorship in #Pakistan🇵🇰: RSF strongly condemns the shutdown of @FactFocusFF‘s website this morning after it published the #BajwaLeaks, an investigation by @Ahmad_Noorani about the recent self-enrichment of the Chief of the Army Staff’s family. #EndCensorship pic.twitter.com/hYXlW0NJWD
— RSF (@RSF_inter) November 21, 2022
Pakistan’s establishment, especially the Bajwa-lead military, has been increasingly accused of heavy-handedness in targetting the dissenting voices in the country. The military has repeatedly denied the charge and insists that it remains apolitical.