Before Bol News started its broadcasts, Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh promised to revolutionize the private media landscape in Pakistan. He claimed that he will not just give salaries to journalists that no other publisher or broadcaster provided, he also offered them perks and privileges that no business in Pakistan gives its staff. These included chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles, five-star meals at work, office gyms, private club memberships, paid vacations abroad and, above all, a financial stake in the outlet they will work for. His self-stated objective was to rid the media industry of what he called its ‘Seth’ culture wherein a wealthy individual, or a Seth, and his/her family have all the decision-making powers and journalists work for the Seth only at his – or her – pleasure. He proclaimed that his media outlets will be entirely run by working journalists who will do it well because they will have a financial incentive, beyond their monthly salary, to do so.
With these promises, when he announced to launch many electronic, digital and print media outlets, he was able to attract a large number of highly known journalists to them. Unfortunately for him, only two of these outlets, Bol News and Bol Entertainment, have been able to make their mark. Most others either did not start or have ceased operations after a lackluster performance.
Shaoib Ahmed Sheikh also promised that his television channels will run no adverts and will also not seek viewership ratings – both in order to keep their news and programming focused on public interest rather than letting them be driven by commercial considerations. But, before his television channels fully got going, a New York Times story in 2015 suggested that their money could be coming from Axact which was reportedly running a global fake degree operation worth billions of dollars. This led to a large-scale exodus of journalists from Bol News.
The news channel is known for its high-pitched moralistic and hyper-nationalist tone. It also has an extreme religious and conservative viewpoint and has publicly campaigned against the owners and the senior staff of some other television channels, labeling them as foreign agents and the enemies of the state. It has similarly launched open attacks against human rights activists and some politicians for being anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan.
Often these tirades have been led by Aamir Liaquat Hussain and have raised the so far unsubstantiated suspicion that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are secretly funding Bol News in order to malign the people that these agencies deem as their critics and dissidents. On a number of occasions, however, law enforcement authorities have also found Bol News to be overstepping ethical and journalistic boundaries. The television channel, and some of its shows, have been closed down more than once over the last five years.
Media Companies / Groups
Labbaik Private Limited
Bol News is owned by Labbaik Private Limited. The shares of Labbaik family are divided among three family units: Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh (25%) and Ayesha Shoaib Shaikh (25%) who share the same address and a surname; Viqas Atiq (25%) and Sarwat Bashir (25%) share the same address; Siddique Ismail and Salman with 1 share each out of 7,000,000 resulting in 0,00 appear to be father and son.
Group / Individual Owner
There is no publicly available information about Viqas Atiq, except for the fact that he shares the same address as Sarwat Bashir, another shareholder in the company.
There is no publicly available information about Sarwat Bashir, except for the fact that he shares the same address as Vigas Atiq.
Affiliated Interests Founder
has founded Bol News channel with attractive packages for employees and state-of-the-art technology to challenge key rivals in the electronic media. The attractive packages paid the dividends with big names from big TV channels moved to join Bol News channel. He is a Karachi-based businessman in his late forties who set up an information technology company, Axact, in the late 1990s. His meteoric rise in business was once seen as a major Pakistani success story – a young man with no family money having made it big on the back of his entrepreneurial skills and hard work. By the late 2000s, Axact had become one of the largest software exporters based in Pakistan – earning millions of dollars in foreign exchange each year. The company was also known for giving very high salaries to its staff and bestowing generous perks and privileges on them, including chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles and paid vacations abroad.
To many people, all this sounded too good to be true and they claimed to be proven right when a 2015 story in the New York Times alleged that Axact had been running a multi-billion-dollar fake educational degrees operation for years. Many cases have been registered against Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh since then in Pakistan for fraud, money laundering and the violation of cyber laws. Axact is also facing a number of cases involving the sale of fake degrees and money laundering in the United States.
In 2015 Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh was arrested, along with many other senior officials of his company and was tried by different courts. In July 2018, a trial court sentenced him for 20 years in prison on money laundering charges but Islamabad High Court suspended the punishment and ordered his release on bail until the high court finalizes the hearing of his appeal against his conviction.
Affiliated Interests Ceo
is the CEO of Labbaik Private Limited. See above for more.
Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief
is a senior journalist who joined Bol News in 2015. His first job, in 1981, was with Lahore-based Urdu daily Nawa-i-Waqt. In 1985, he joined Urdu daily Jang and worked with it in different sections till 1993 when he and another senior journalist set up their own Urdu newspaper, daily Public. The newspaper could not take off so Nazir Leghari rejoined daily Jang.
In 1994, he became the editor of an Urdu evening newspaper, daily Anjam, published by Jang Media Group which also publishes daily Jang. He was elevated to the post of the editor of daily Jang in 2012.
Affiliated Interests other important people
is graduated in international relations. He started his career as a journalist with Geo News in 2002. He was working as the new channel’s bureau chief in Karachi before he joined Bol News in 2014. Once, he was also known as being close to the leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – or MQM – a party that represents the Urdu-speaking communities of Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh province. Apart from Nazir Leghari, he is among the last few nationally known journalists still working with Bol News – others having left it in the wake of the fake degree case.
is a self-proclaimed scholar of Islam and regarded as easily among the most controversial public figures in Pakistan. He first came on to the national scene when he started doing a religious talk show on Geo Television Network in 2001. Within a very short span, his show started attracting highest viewership ratings. Overtime, it has travelled to many television channels. During each Ramadan, the Islamic month for fasting, it morphs into a much anticipated marathon transmission that combines a religious talk show with games, quizzes and cookery thrown in for good measure. He won a National Assembly seat from Karachi in 2002 as an MQM nominee and became the state minister for religious affairs. He had to lose his ministerial position in July 2007 after he was alleged to have endorsed violence against Ahmadis, a small community that deems itself as Muslim but has been declared non-Muslim by law and constitution. Since then, he has been involved in a number of other religious, political and social controversies, the latest being his misogynistic outburst against a women’s march held on March 8, 2019. Media regulators have often punished him for violating broadcast laws and journalistic ethics. Aamir Liaquat Hussain is also probably the most highly valued television brand in the country. His religious broadcasts and his game shows usually garner the highest viewership rating whenever – and on whichever television channel - they get aired. He has been off air for quite some time now, especially since his second election to the National Assembly in July 2018. He is now associated with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Bolistan, BOL Road,
Korangi Creek Cantonment, Karachi
Revenue (in Mill. $)
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
An information request was couriered to the company for seeking official information on 15 January 2019 and by email the next day – 16 January 2019. There was no response. A reminder was sent through a courier company on 01 February 2019 and by email on 04 February 2019. Again, there has been no response from the company to date. The documents MOM Pakistan obtained from Securities and Exchange Commission from Pakistan about Labbaik (Private) Limited which owns BOL News channel do not include annual financial report for financial year. There is a lot of information about BOL Network and its owner Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh available online.