VOA’s Madeeha Anwar denies filing complaint against appointment of Pakistan journalist Ovais Tohid


Washington DC: (By Ahmmar Mustikhan) Under federal law a non-citizen cannot be appointed to a position for which a qualified U.S citizen is available. Ovais Tohid was initially poised to become chief of Urdu service but is now an advisor

A woman journalist, originally from Pakistan’s military bastion of Rawalpindi, Madeeha Anwar, 41, has denied anything to do with filing a complaint with the Voice of America ombudsman on the appointment of senior Pakistan journalist Ovais Tohid.

“I am myself in a very good position,” Ms Anwar said on the phone. “Why should I file a complaint.”

Way back in October last year, Tohid had tweeted, “I am moving on to join VOA as service chief of @voaurdu in Washington D.C. soon.

“Need your wishes and prayers for the success of my future assignment.”

However, a senior employee reportedly filed a complaint with the ombudsman office and Tohid’s arrival was delayed by many months. Finally, in stead of Urdu service chief, Tohid’s new role would be that of an advisor.

Ms. Anwar said it was true that a non-citizen has been inducted in a senior position.

Pakistan journalist circles confirmed on the condition of anonymity that a complaint has indeed been filed against the appointment of Ovais Tohid with the ombudsman office by a senior VOA employee.

“If it is not Madeeha Anwar, it could be somebody else (who filed the complaint),” said Anwar Iqbal— no relations with Madeeha Anwar—, the senior most Pakistan reporter in the DMV area.

Tohid in a text message said, “I am not aware of such a thing. I am doing absolutely fine.”

Tohid said he had moved to northwest DC along with his writer wife, Nazish Brohi, daughter of Sindhi intellectual late Ali Muhammad Brohi.

Ayesha Tanzeem, Director, South and Central Asia, did not immediately comment on the matter while Bridget Serchak, spokesperson for the VOA, said, “VOA does not comment on personnel matters.“

The criteria for hiring and firing of journalists in VOA is quite murky. Last year, senior Pakistan journalist Nafisa Hoodbhoy, widely respected in Pakistan, was let go by the VOA.

“People in VOA are mafia,” said Jahanzeb Ali, station chief of ARY in Washington DC. “But I hope they are not able to do anything to OT (Ovais Tohid).”

The VOA is part of the U.S. government’s United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM). According to the USAGM, its mandate comes from multiple pieces of legislation. It is accountable to six bipartisan House and Senate committees. As a federal agency, USAGM’s budget request is part of the President’s Budget request to the Congress.

Intriguingly, the USAGM does not appear to be an organization that represents an advanced democracy but a developing nation: even the web site has not been updated as the Democrats are were being shown Thursday as the majority and the Republican as minority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The VOA is more or less the propaganda arm of the State Department

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