Dr. Javed’s lectures are telling us the consequences behind the globalization of media in broader perspective, further historical development and events for the research purpose can be had from network resources like:
Some text based articles regarding aspects of journalism are as follows:
President Pervez Musharraf's rule ushered in increased freedom for the print media and a liberalisation of broadcasting policies.
However, media rules were tightened in 2007 in the midst of an opposition campaign against the president. The legislation gave the broadcasting regulator more power to shut down TV stations.
Months later, under emergency rule, broadcasts of private TV stations via cable were disrupted.
The expansion of private radio and television stations brought to an end more than five decades of the state's virtual monopoly of broadcasting.
Television is the dominant medium, and licences for more than 20 private satellite TV stations have been awarded, signalling increased competition for the state-run Pakistan Television Corporation. But there are no private, terrestrial TV stations.
Many Pakistanis watch international satellite TV channels, via a dish or an often-unlicensed cable TV operator.
Indian channels such as Zee TV and STAR TV are popular with those who can receive them. The channels circumvent censorship in Pakistan that is far more restrictive than in India.
Around 100 licences have been issued for private FM radio stations, although not all of them have been taken up. Pakistan's media regulator has estimated that the country can support more than 800 private radio stations. Private stations are not allowed to broadcast news.
There are regular reports of private FM stations operating illegally, particularly in the tribal areas of North-West Frontier Province. Some of the stations have been accused of fanning sectarian divisions.
Pakistan and India regularly engage in a war of words via their respective media, occasionally banning broadcasts from the other country.
The government uses a range of legal and constitutional powers to curb press freedom. The shutting down of private TV news channels accompanied the declaration of a state of emergency in late 2007, and the law on blasphemy has been used against journalists.
Nevertheless, Pakistan's print media are among the most outspoken in South Asia.
The Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan estimated in March 2007 that there were between three and five million internet users. The authorities filter some websites. A small but growing number of bloggers write about political topics.
• Daily Jang - Karachi-based, Urdu-language; largest-circulation daily
• Dawn - Karachi-based, largest-circulation English-language daily
• The Nation - Lahore-based, English-language daily
• The Frontier Post - Peshawar-based, English-language
• The News - English-language daily, published by Jang group
• Daily Ausaf - Islamabad-based, Urdu-language
• Daily Times - English-language
• Business Recorder - financial daily
• Pakistan and Gulf Economist - business weekly
• The Friday Times - Lahore-based weekly, English-language
• Pakistan Television Corporation Ltd - state TV, operates PTV 1, PTV National, PTV Bolan, PTV World
• ATV - semi-private, terrestrial network
• Geo TV - leading private satellite broadcaster, owned by Jang publishing group; based in Dubai; services include Urdu-language Geo News
• Dawn News - private satellite broadcaster, owned by Herald group; first English-language news channel
• Aaj TV - private satellite broadcaster, owned by Business Recorder group
• Indus TV - private, via satellite, runs Indus Vision, Indus Plus, Indus News, Indus Music
• ARY Digital - private, via satellite; services include news channel ARY One World
• Radio Pakistan - state-run, operates 25 stations nationwide, an external service and the entertainment-based FM 101 network, aimed at younger listeners
• Azad Kashmir Radio - state-run
• Mast FM 103 - private, music-based
• FM 100 - private, music-based
• Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) - state-funded
State of the Print Media in Pakistan: 2003-04
Compiled by Adnan Rehmat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chronology of Violations
27 May 2003
Police prevented journalists from covering a protest by opposition legislators near the Punjab
provincial legislature in Lahore. The next day the journalists boycotted proceedings of the Punjab
Assembly, which was called off after ministers Chaudhry Iqbal and Raja Basharat expressed
regret over the incident and promised action against the police officers responsible.
30 June 2003
A large police posse raided the office of Urdu language monthly journal Shahrag-e-Pakistan in
Lahore, detaining editor-in-chief Khalid Mehmood Shah in the magazine office for two days.
According to Shah, about 70 policemen attacked his office, searching for his brother, the
spokesman for opposition political leader Shahbaz Sharif. He says the leaders of the raid
roughed him up for the magazine’s alleged critical stance against the government.
8 July 2003
An additional district and sessions court of Peshawar in North West Frontier Province convicted a
sub-editor of English daily The Frontier Post, Munawar Mohsin, in a blasphemy case and
sentenced him to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000 (US$900). Judge Sardar Irshad held
Mohsin responsible for publication of a blasphemous letter in the Post on 29 January 2001, which
triggered violent protests. Blasphemy is punishable by death under Pakistani law but the
maximum sentence has never been applied.
10 July 2003
The government of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, imposed curbs on the media as
part of its series of measures to deal with ethnic and sectarian tensions caused by a recent bomb
explosion that killed dozens of people at a Shia mosque. An official notification banned
newspapers from publishing news, articles, statements, photographs, editorials and cartoons that
could “fan ethnic and sectarian tensions.” It asked editors, printers and publishers to submit all
such material to the public relations director for scrutiny before publication.
23 July 2003
The government banned distribution of the international magazine Newsweek, saying it contained
material “against Islam and the holy Quran.” A notification issued to this effect, and mentioned in
the press, directed customs authorities to seize all copies of the magazine’s 28 July 2003 edition.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told BBC in an interview the action had been taken
because “the article could create anxiety among Pakistanis, hurt their sentiments and infuriate
them.” He said the action was approved by Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali.
15 August 2003
Police arrested Rasheed Azeem, correspondent for daily Intikhab, joint editor of Roshnai, a
quarterly journal focusing on human rights, and president of Jhalawan Union of Journalists, in
Balochistan province, for allegedly committing sedition. According to Javed Gharshin, a police
official at the Crime Branch, Quetta, the arrest came on the orders of an intelligence agency after
Azeem, affiliated with Balochistan National Party (Mengal faction), distributed in Khuzdar city a
poster “depicting the army beating up Baloch natives.” Azeem remains in custody after being
denied bail by the local court.
17 August 2003
The Pakistan government protested with the United States for the investigation of Nayyar Zaidi, a
publication of Pakistan's largest media group, by the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI). A letter signed by Deputy Chief of Mission at Pakistan Embassy in
Washington Mohammed Sadiq and sent to the State Department said Zaidi is a “very senior and
newspaper in Washington for more than two decades” and that “the State
Department is well aware of his credentials.” According to Zaidi, three FBI agents – Chris
McKinney, Heather Grow and Michelle Crest – visited his home in Prince
County, Virginia, on 20 February 2003 while he was away. They tried to
interrogate his 15-year-old son, Zain Zaidi, who telephoned him, but when he
arrived home the agents had left. They left a telephone number for Zaidi to
contact them. When Zaidi called the number, agent McKinney asked him to come to the FBI’s
Washington field office, where the agent asked him several questions about his personal, social
and religious activities. The agent had asked him to bring his telephone notebook because he
claimed that Zaidi’s home telephone was used to make calls to 10 telephone numbers in
Pakistan, India, China, the Netherlands and Thailand. The numbers “brush off” against those
already under investigation for links to the events of 9/11, McKinney said. When Zaidi met the
three agents at the field office, they released two numbers in Pakistan and China. Zaidi says the
number in Pakistan is very similar to one of his newspaper’s fax numbers, to which he sends
news stories. The Pakistani number was officially investigated by the embassy and turned out to
number for a bankrupt textile company. One of the agents, Grow, refused to disclose all 10
numbers to Zaidi, saying she felt very uncomfortable doing so. Zaidi offered to cooperate with the
telephone notebook and records unless the agents had legal grounds for
making the demand. Zaidi says that after the initial investigation, the FBI did not contact him for
several months. However, on 8 August, two different FBI agents visited his home while he was
away and left a message for Zaidi to call them. He called them on 11 August and left three
messages, but the FBI never called back.
21 August 2003
Mahmudul Haq, the municipal administrator of Sheikhupura town in Punjab province, filed police
cases against nine local journalists, including local press club president, Rana Sarwar, and
secretary-general, Azeem Yazdani, claiming they had “interfered in official affairs.” Haq was
reacting to articles published alleging that he and his city council staff members were involved in
corrupt activities, including allegedly illegal charging for parking from the public at a local park.
26 August 2003
The police arrested six journalists under terrorism laws during a visit of President General Pervez
Musharraf to Hyderabad city of Sindh province. They were charged with disturbing the peace and
committing violent acts. The journalists were covering a demonstration staged by the women’s
wing of Sindh Chandia Welfare Association to coincide with the arrival of Musharraf at Mehran
University in Jamshoro, where he addressed a meeting of vice-chancellors. The journalists –
Nadeem Panwar, Hakim Chandio, Sharif Abro, Irfan Burfat, Shahid Khushk and Haji Khan Sial –
were freed a few days later after journalists covering Sindh provincial legislature proceedings
staged a walkout to protest the arrests and provincial ministers issued directives to release them.
10 September 2003
Acting allegedly on the orders of the speaker of the North West Frontier Province legislature, the
entire staff of the Assembly Secretariat attacked journalists covering the assembly proceedings
after the latter were denied a meeting with the speaker and protested. Wielding iron bars and
sticks, they damaged the motorcycles of the journalists. Police personnel stood by and did not
intervene. The staff also assaulted a journalist in the speaker’s chamber in the presence of Law
Minister Zafar Alam despite his protestations. The journalists then boycotted the assembly
18 September 2003
Two journalists from Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan – Nasrullah Afridi,
correspondent for daily Mashriq, and Aurangzaib Afridi, correspondent for daily Subah – were
detained and roughed up by Tanzeem Ittehad-e-Ulema, a fundamental organisation outlawed by
the government, for reporting about their activities. They were freed after pressure from influential
persons and have continued receiving threats. They have been warned “to fear for your lives if
you don’t give up the idea of free press in the tribal areas.” Nasrullah is the president and
Aurangzaib the vice president of the Tribal Union of Journalists.
26 September 2003
The authorities refused to accept a plea by Reporters Sans Frontieres for transfer to hospital of
Rehmat Shah Afridi, former editor of daily papers The Frontier Post and Maidan, who is in jail
awaiting execution for alleged possession and trafficking of drugs. Because of denial of proper
medical attention, Afridi’s has developed a serious heart condition and lost a great deal of weight.
Afridi, who is appealing the sentence, was arrested on 2 April 1999, and on 27 June 2001
sentenced to be hanged. He says he was convicted as an act of revenge by the Anti-Narcotics
Force. The two papers had frequently exposed corruption, drug trafficking and illegal arms sale
3 October 2003
Amir Bux Brohi, 30, correspondent for Sindhi daily Kawish and Kawish Television News (KTN)
channel, known for his reports on rights violations by police and powerful local figures in Sindh
province, was shot dead in Shikarpur by three gunmen. Brohi was stopped as he returned from
the local police headquarters and shot at close range. Eyewitnesses said Brohi quarrelled with
the assailants before they pumped five bullets in his chest. The identity and the motive of the
killers have not been traced or ascertained.
22 November 2003
Three unidentified assailants set fire to the car of Amir Mir, the senior assistant editor for monthly
current affairs magazine Herald. The car was parked outside his house in Lahore in Punjab
province. Mir claims he received a call the next day from a security agency warning him “this was
only the beginning.” Mir had only recently resigned as editor of Independent, a Lahore-based
weekly, under pressure from local government officials who accused the magazine of carrying
articles “against the national interest.”
16 December 2003
Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, a Pakistani journalist, was arrested along with two French journalists, Marc
Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, of the newsweekly L'Express, from Karachi. While the
authorities denied they were holding Rizvi, they said the French journalists were in custody for
visa violations and accused them of making a fake film showing allegedly fabricated militant
activity on Pakistani territory by the Taliban group.
8 January 2004
A sentence of life imprisonment was awarded by a local court in Karachi in Sindh province to Aziz
Qureshi, the accused in the bombing of the advertising office of daily Nawa-i-Waqt in Karachi.
Four people, including a woman who was reportedly carrying the bomb, died in the blast in the
Nawa-i-Waqt office on 6 November 2000. Qureshi was arrested on 2 March 2002 and pleaded
12 January 2003
French journalists, Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, of the newsweekly L'Express, were
freed after pleading guilty of visa violations and paying fines announced by a court in Quetta, the
capital of Balochistan province. They were initially also handed six-month prison sentence which
were waived. The authorities still denied knowledge of the whereabouts of Pakistani journalist
Khawar Mehdi Rizvi.
24 January 2004
Pakistani authorities finally conceded they were holding Khawar Mehdi Rizvi and formally
charged him with sedition, conspiracy, and impersonation. The maximum penalty for the charges
is life imprisonment. The authorities said Mehdi aided French journalists, Marc Epstein and Jean-
Paul Guilloteau, of the newsweekly L'Express, in preparing a n allegedly fake film about militant
activity Pakistan, which had put the country in a bad light.
29 January 2004
Sajid Tanoli, 34, a reporter for daily Shumaal (North), was killed by Khalid Javed, the mayor
(nazim) of Mansehra in the North West Frontier Province. Javed shot Tanoli five times in broad
daylight on one of the town’s streets and fled. Tanoli was killed after he wrote an article on 26
January about an allegedly illegal liquor business (banned in the province) run by Javed. Enraged
by the article, Javed filed a libel suit against Shumaal on 27 January. Two days later he shot
24 February 2004
A bomb exploded outside the offices of Jang, the flagship publication of the country’s largest
media group, in Quetta in Balochistan province, blowing out windows in neighbouring buildings.
No one was injured in the blast at the Urdu-language daily. An unknown group calling itself
Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility but gave no reason for the attack.
25 February 2004
Arif Nizami, editor of the daily The Nation and executive editor of daily Nawa-i-Waqt announced
the government has banned the placement of government advertisement in newspapers
belonging to the Nawa-i-Waqt group of publications, one of Pakistan’s largest media
organisations. Nizami claimed the ban was a result of his group of publication’s opposition to
government policies and said “negates the government claims that the Pakistan media is freed.”
29 February 2004
Hundreds of protestors from religious groups demonstrating against private TV channel Geo for
airing an allegedly controversial episode of a popular religious programme attacked the Karachi
Press Club, seriously wounding a guard and causing serious damage to the premise and
property. Dozens of protesters scaled the press club’s walls, broke windows, beat up guard
Mohammed Rafiq and ransacked the premises. Several journalists took cover in a room on the
first floor. The protestors then tried to reach the premises of nearby Jang Group, the parent
company of Geo TV, but were stooped by the police.
1 March 2004
In the small hours on 1 March, several unidentified armed men conducted coordinated raids on
newspaper distribution points in various parts of Karachi in Sindh province. They aimed their guns
at news vendors, forcibly took bundles of newspapers, set them ablaze and fled. No explanation
was given and their identity has not been traced.
2 March 2004
About two dozen rioters broke into the building housing the offices of daily Jang and Geo TV,
both belonging to the country’s largest media group, the Jang Group, in Quetta, in Balochistan
province. Administrative records, newspapers and other materials were set ablaze. The office
was closed for a holiday and no one was injured. The attack came after sectarian clashes broke
out in the city.
4 March 2004
Shahbaz Pathan, a correspondent for daily Halchal, in Sukkur in Sindh province, was kidnapped
by armed bandits as he played badminton with friends. He was taken, along with one of his
friends, to the nearby Shah Belo forests, which is reportedly infested with bandits. Shahbaz and
his brother Asad, who is the general secretary of the Sukkur Press Club, had produced a
documentary on the activities of the bandits.
27 March 2004
After being held by the authorities for over 100 days, during which he says he was tortured,
Pakistani journalist Khawar Mehdi Rizvi was granted bail. Judge Hashim Kakar of the anti-
terrorism court in Quetta, in Balochistan province, ordered his release on a surety bond of Rs
200,000 ($3,500). Rizvi was freed the next day.
11 April 2004
Zulfiqar Khaskheli, a reporter in Nawabshah for Sindhi-language daily Ibrat, was severely beaten
by police, affecting his eyesight and hearing. His thrashing was so severe that he had to be
hospitalized, while being chained and handcuffed. Local police chief Sarwar Jamali arrested
Khaskheli for reporting on gambling operations in the district under the district police officer’s
command. He was released on bail.
21 April 2004
Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai was arrested in the tribal areas, where he was working with
American reporter Eliza Griswold, who was later expelled from the country. Griswold, a freelance
reporter and regular contributor to the American weekly The New Yorker, Yousafzai, a stringer for
Newsweek magazine, and their driver were arrested at a checkpoint in Bakakhel, near Bannu in
the North West Frontier Province, as they attempted to enter North Waziristan. The American
journalist was wearing a burqa to avoid being identified. A few hours earlier, the journalists had
been turned back at the Jandola checkpoint and not allowed to enter the South Waziristan tribal
area. The two and their driver were questioned for several hours and then allowed to return
towards Peshawar. But the authorities rearrested them near Bannu. Griswold was expelled to the
US a few days later, but Yousafzai and his driver were still being held incommunicado. Yousafzai
was working as a fixer for Griswold in the tribal areas. They did not have the special authorization
demanded by the authorities since the start of the Pakistani military offensive against armed
Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in South Waziristan. No foreign journalist has been able to travel to
the region with official authorization. However, dozens of journalists from the tribal areas and
Pakistani reporters have been able to work in the area freely.
The Fine Print in Pakistan Gets Blurry
There has been a major deterioration in the state of the print media in general and the working
conditions for journalists in particular in Pakistan this past year. Murders, kidnappings, arrests,
imprisonments, torture, attacks, imposed news blackouts – Pakistani journalists have seen it all
this year. In a rollercoaster year that has seen their freedoms shrinking, they have been charged
with some of the most serious crimes anyone can be tried in Pakistan – such as blasphemy,
which carries the death penalty, and sedition, which punishes with life imprisonment.
For the Pakistani print media, the culprits have been varied – Islamists, sectarian parties, robbers,
elected public representatives – but the authorities have emerged as the wrongdoer-in-chief by
far, representing a worsening of the environment in which journalists can practice their
profession, as enshrined in and guaranteed by the constitution, to their natural potentials, in
safety and without fear or favour.
Contrastingly, the electronic media in the country, in the same period, has seen a drastic
improvement with the policy of liberalisation of the airwaves set in motion by the military
government of President General Pervez Musharraf in 2002 and carried forward by the elected
government of Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali, bringing in more and more private players in
both the radio and television sectors.
About 60 private FM radio licenses had been issued by early 2004 and about a dozen private
Pakistani TV channels had been accorded permission to go on air while literally hundreds of
foreign channels promised in Direct-to-Home (DTH) bouquets by both the state and private
sectors – massively increasing the number of alternative sources of independent information for
Pakistanis who until recently had just the propagandist state-owned television and radio to rely
While the recent developments on the electronic media front are a cause, in large measure, for
celebration, those in the print sector are grounds for antagonism and call for demonstration from
all sectors of society in general and the government in particular the commitment to upholding
complete journalistic freedoms so that the print media can play to its maximum potential as the
guardian of public interest and act as an agent of accountability, and therefore, good governance.
MURDER: In the period between 3 May 2003 and 3 May 2004 – the third of May being the
International Press Freedom Day – two journalists were murdered in Pakistan. The first was Amir
Bux Brohi, 30, correspondent for Sindhi daily Kawish and Kawish Television News (KTN)
channel, known for his reports on rights violations by police and powerful local figures in Sindh
province. He was shot dead on 3 October 2003 in Shikarpur by three gunmen. Brohi was stopped
as he returned from the local police headquarters and shot at close range. The second was Sajid
Tanoli, 34, a reporter for daily Shumaal (North), who on 29 January 2004 was killed by Khalid
Javed, the nazim (mayor) of Mansehra in the North West Frontier Province. Javed shot Tanoli
five times in broad daylight on one of the town’s streets and fled. Tanoli was killed after he wrote
an article about an allegedly illegal liquor business (banned in the province) run by Javed. In
neither case have the culprits been arrested, tried or punished.
BLASPHEMY: On 8 July 2003, a court in Peshawar in North West Frontier Province convicted a
sub-editor of English daily The Frontier Post, Munawar Mohsin, in a blasphemy case and
sentenced him to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000 ($900). Mohsin was held responsible
for publication of a blasphemous letter in the Post on 29 January 2001, which triggered violent
protests. Blasphemy is punishable by death under Pakistani law but the maximum sentence has
never been applied.
ARRESTED: On 26 August 2003, the police arrested six journalists under terrorism laws during a
visit of President General Pervez Musharraf to Hyderabad city of Sindh province. They were
charged with disturbing the peace and committing violent acts. The journalists were covering a
demonstration staged by a local women’s group to coincide with the arrival of Musharraf at
Mehran University in Jamshoro, where he addressed a meeting of vice-chancellors. The
journalists – Nadeem Panwar, Hakim Chandio, Sharif Abro, Irfan Burfat, Shahid Khushk and Haji
Khan Sial – were freed a few days later after journalists covering Sindh provincial legislature
proceedings staged a walkout to protest the arrests and provincial ministers issued directives to
KIDNAPPED: On 4 March 2004, Shahbaz Pathan, a correspondent for daily Halchal, in Sukkur in
Sindh province, was kidnapped by armed bandits as he played badminton with friends. He was
taken, along with one of his friends, to the nearby Shah Belo forests, which is reportedly infested
with bandits. Shahbaz and his brother Asad, who is the general secretary of the Sukkur Press
Club, had produced a documentary on the activities of the bandits.
INTIMIDATION BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS: On 18 September 2003, two journalists from
Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan – Nasrullah Afridi, correspondent for daily Mashriq,
and Aurangzaib Afridi, correspondent for daily Subah – were detained and roughed up by
Tanzeem Ittehad-e-Ulema, a fundamentalist organisation outlawed by the government, for
reporting about their activities. They were freed after pressure from influential persons and have
continued receiving threats. They have been warned “to fear for your lives if you don’t give up the
idea of free press in the tribal areas.” On 29 February 2004, hundreds of protestors from religious
groups demonstrating against private TV channel Geo for airing an allegedly controversial
episode of a popular religious programme attacked the Karachi Press Club, seriously wounding a
guard and causing serious damage to the premise and property. Dozens of protesters scaled the
press club’s walls, broke windows, beat up guard Mohammed Rafiq and ransacked the premises.
Several journalists took cover in a room on the first floor. The protestors then tried to reach the
premises of nearby Jang Group, the parent company of Geo TV, but were stooped by the police.
INTIMIDATION BY THE AUTHORITIES: On 25 February 2004, Arif Nizami, editor of the daily
The Nation and executive editor of daily Nawa-i-Waqt announced the government has banned
the placement of government advertisement in newspapers belonging to the Nawa-i-Waqt group
of publications, one of Pakistan’s largest media organisations. Nizami claimed the ban was a
result of his group of publication’s opposition to government policies and said “negates the
government claims that the Pakistan media is freed.”
ATTACK: On 24 February 2004, a bomb exploded outside the offices of Jang, the flagship
publication of the country’s largest media group, in Quetta in Balochistan province, blowing out
windows in neighbouring buildings. No one was injured in the blast at the Urdu-language daily. An
unknown group calling itself Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility but gave no
reason for the attack.
NEWS BLACKOUT: On 10 July 2003, the authorities in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan
province, imposed curbs on the media as part of its series of measures to deal with ethnic and
sectarian tensions caused by a recent bomb explosion that killed dozens of people at a Shia
mosque. An official notification banned newspapers from publishing news, articles, statements,
photographs, editorials and cartoons that could “fan ethnic and sectarian tensions.” It asked
editors, printers and publishers to submit all such material to the public relations director for
scrutiny before publication.
SEDITION: On 15 August 2003, the police arrested Rasheed Azeem, correspondent for daily
Intikhab, joint editor of Roshnai, a quarterly journal focusing on human rights, and president of
Jhalawan Union of Journalists, in Balochistan province, for allegedly committing sedition.
According to Javed Gharshin, a police official at the Crime Branch, Quetta, the arrest came on
the orders of an intelligence agency after Azeem, affiliated with Balochistan National Party
(Mengal faction), distributed in Khuzdar city a poster “depicting the army beating up Baloch
natives.” Azeem remains in custody after being denied bail by the local court.
By far the most high-profile case of violation of media freedoms in Pakistan in the past year was
that of Pakistani journalist Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, who was charged, among other things, with
sedition, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, for abetting foreign
journalists in preparing an allegedly fake film “showing Pakistan in a bad light,” as the authorities
put it. On 16 December 2003, Rizvi was arrested along with two French journalists, Marc Epstein
and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, of the newsweekly L'Express, from Karachi. Rizvi was acting as a fixer
for the French journalists. They had just returned from Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan
province, which borders southeast Afghanistan, the stronghold of the Taliban. The authorities
seized all filmed material from the journalists.
While the authorities initially denied they were holding Rizvi, they said the French journalists were
in custody for visa violations – they had not been issued visas for Quetta, but for Islamabad,
Lahore and Karachi only – and accused the duo of faking a report about armed Taliban activities
along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan.
On 12 January 2003, Epstein and Guilloteau were freed after pleading guilty of visa violations and
paying Rs 200,000 ($3,500) in fines announced by a court in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan
province. They were initially handed six-month prison sentenced which were converted into fines
on an appeal. The authorities still denied knowledge of the whereabouts of Rizvi, the Pakistani
journalist assistant of the French journalists.
On 24 January 2004, the authorities finally conceded they were holding Khawar Mehdi Rizvi and
formally charged him with sedition, conspiracy, and impersonation in an anti-terrorism court in
Quetta. The maximum penalty for the charges is life imprisonment. Rizvi is charged with violating
the sedition law under Pakistan’s Penal Code, Section 124-A, which is defined as using speech
that “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite
disaffection towards, the Central or Provincial Government established by law.” The authorities
said Rizvi aided the two French journalists in preparing an allegedly fake film about militant
activity Pakistan, which had put the country in a bad light.
After a concerted worldwide campaign by Pakistani and foreign journalists – over 3,000
journalists and media workers signed a worldwide petition drawn up by a committee campaigning
for his release (www.freekhawar.org
) – Rizvi was finally granted bail on a surety bond of Rs
200,000 ($3,500) by Judge Hashim Kakar of the anti-terrorism court, who also ordered his
release. Rizvi was freed on 29 January 2004. He has been allowed to live in his hometown
Islamabad but will have to appear in person at each court hearing in Quetta, over 1,000 km away.
The whole Rizvi case raises troubling questions about the very nature of the work of media
persons in Pakistan, putting in doubt the extent of who they can work with, what kind of work they
can do, discriminatory trial treatment, pre-judgment as well as aspersions on both their
professional work and personal life even before a court of law has had a chance to try an
For instance, even though arrested together in the same case, the French journalists were tried
only for violating visa rules and not for making the allegedly fake film about Taliban militant
activities, for which Rizvi is being tried. So while the makers and sponsors of the allegedly fake
film are let off with relatively small fines, the “abettor” – Rizvi – is slapped with a far graver charge
of sedition, which can potentially land him in jail for life if found guilty.
The authorities initially denied even knowing about the whereabouts of Rizvi even though state-
run Pakistan Television (PTV) had shown the Pakistani journalist with officials in security uniform.
After over 100 days in custody, the authorities admitted they were holding him, charging him and
presenting him in an anti-terrorism court. Under Pakistani law, the authorities must present before
a magistrate within 48 hours anyone they have arrested to seek permission to interrogate. In the
over 100 days of detention, Rizvi was neither produced before a magistrate nor allowed access to
his family or a lawyer in violation of fundamental law of the land.
While he had no recourse to defend himself, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf
personally cast doubt on the professional qualities of Rizvi on 29 December 2004, much before
the authorities even conceded they were holding him. Musharraf told representatives of the All
Pakistan Newspapers Society: “This freelance journalist has done terrible harm to the national
interest in making this fake film on the Taliban and for only 2,000 dollars. If he had come to me I
would have been able to give him 3,000 dollars not to make this film.” The authorities even
questioned Rizvi’s credentials as a journalist even though he has worked for The News, one of
Pakistan’s largest newspapers, TF1, France 2, Le Monde, Libération and Arte.
Rizvi appeared in court with two other men, Allah Noor and Abdullah Shakir, accused of filming
what police said was a fictitious Taliban camp, conducting an interview with a man who they
claimed was a middle-ranking Taliban commander. Rizvi and the French journalists say the
interview is genuine; the authorities say it is a fabrication. They allege that Rizvi intentionally hired
Noor and Shakir to impersonate members of the Taliban in video footage made by the French
journalists. This footage of Noor and Shakir has been shown on state television, PTV.
After being freed on bail, Rizvi said he had not broken the law and had “simply done my job as a
journalist.” He thanked everyone who had campaigned for his release, especially fellow
journalists in Pakistan and all over the world. “I now know the true value of press freedom and will
continue my work as a journalist with renewed vigor,” he added.
GOOD NEWS: As far as justice for the media in a case of attack against it goes, the only good
news came on 8 January 2004 when a sentence of life imprisonment was awarded by a local
court in Karachi in Sindh province to Aziz Qureshi, the accused in the bombing of the advertising
office of daily Nawa-i-Waqt in Karachi three years earlier. Four people, including a woman who
was reportedly carrying the bomb, died in the blast in the Nawa-i-Waqt office on 6 November
2000. Qureshi was arrested on 2 March 2002 and pleaded guilty.
PAKISTAN: 48 journalists attacked in six months, says report
52 print journalists and 14 electronic media journalists among those who faced violence and harassment
Friday, July 21, 2006
Islamabad --- Media in Pakistan faced at least 48 recorded incidents of attacks and harassment during the first six months (January 1 to June 30) of the current year in which two journalists were murdered and 28 attacked or tortured, says a report issued by an international media NGO here on Friday.
Statistics compiled from print media by Internews, an international NGO working to promote open media worldwide, reveal that in these 48 incidents, a total of 66 journalists were the victims of harassment and torture.
The report said 25 journalists were kidnapped or detained during the six months. The murdered journalists include Munir Ahmed Sangi of Kawish Television Network (KTN) and Hayatullah Khan of The Nation, who were killed in Sindh province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), respectively.
The analysis shows a disturbing trend of increasing incidents of violence against mediapersons and media property in Pakistan, says the report. In January 2006, it said, there were six incidents and in June the number of attacks had risen to 13.
During the period under review, six attacks and raids by government and political groups on media property were reported, including press clubs at Peshawar, Khairpur and Quetta.
Geographically, Sindh proved to be the most dangerous region in Pakistan to practice journalism with 29 journalists victimised followed by 17 in tribal areas, 11 in Punjab and seven in the NWFP.
Two journalists from the Northern Areas were also victims of harassment.
The brunt of physical attacks and threats was faced by the print media where 52 journalists were at the receiving end while 14 electronic media journalists also coming under attack during the first six months of 2006.
The most prominent incident of violence was the killing of Hayatullah Khan, who was kidnapped on December 5, 2005 and found dead on June 16, 2006 in Mirali, a town in North Waziristan, with bullet wounds to his head.
Date Posted: 7/21/200
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Pakistan: Charter of Media Freedom
Following the declared state of emergency and new ordinances to curb media rights in Pakistan, media-persons from both the print and electronic media, representing various media bodies, various press clubs and journalist unions, writers and civil society representatives from across Pakistan have met to deliberate upon the state of media, its freedom, media laws, safety of journalists, closer and sustenance of media enterprises. Here are some of the conclusions, objectives, and demands:
Concerned about the imposition of emergency, suspension of the Constitution and fundamental rights, erosion of independence of judiciary and rule of law and its adverse consequences for media freedom, imposition of two black media laws (PRMRA and PNNABRO), an arbitrary Code of Conduct for Media, suspension of transmission of private news and current affairs televisions, prolonged suspension of GEO, continuing witch-hunt of certain outspoken journalists and media outlets, ban on import of dish antenna components, attacks on and arrests of protesting journalists, withholding of government ads and various methods of intimidation of media industry and working journalists during the military regime, in general, and since November 3.
We are of the considered view that:
a) The degree of access to information and freedom of expression and pluralist free media are defining elements of a political system. In autocratic and intolerant regimes, information is restricted on the basis of the "need to know" and limited to a powerful few. Democracies, on the other hand, respect freedom of expression and recognize the right to information that is inclusive and empowers the people. A free and independent media is a prerequisite of a responsible and transparent governance and accountability.
b) The media-- as a watchdog of public interest, carrier of information, promoter of a free and balanced debate—is a most dynamic institution of civil society and can only flourish in a democracy and tolerant culture.
c) The freedom of media, freedom of expression and right to know are embedded in the universal recognition of fundamental human, civil and political rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and enforceable by an independent judiciary;
d) The media in Pakistan is under threat from state authoritarianism, terrorism and ethno-religious extremism.
e) The journalists struggle for a free media is un-separable from the overall democratic struggle by civil society, bars, intelligentsia and democratic forces for the restoration of 1973 Constitution in its original spirit, undiluted parliamentary democracy, genuine federalism, an independent judiciary, a sovereign parliament and promotion of democratic culture of pluralism and tolerance;
f) The media volunteer to be self-regulated by its own professional codes of ethics under autonomous regulatory bodies formed by major stakeholders that are absolutely free from the influence of or interference by the executive/government.
We, therefore, agree to work together to pursue the following objectives and goals and demand:
That we demand, and resolve to work for, lifting of emergency and all curbs on fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, right to know and free debate, restoration of the 1973 Constitution in its true spirit, revival of the pre-PCO independent judiciary, and holding of free and fair elections while ensuring a level playing field to all parties to a sovereign parliament and confining the armed forces to their actual job of guarding frontiers and maintaining security.
That we demand, and resolve to struggle for, the withdrawal of PEMRA, PNNABRO (Amended) ordinances and the Code Conduct for Media, restoration of all news channels, including GEO, without any restriction on live coverage or particular programs, an end to harassment and victimization of individual media outlets and journalists, rescinding the ban on the import of dish antenna and other prohibitive measures. That we demand, and resolve to purse, restoration of freedom of expression and freedom of media without any undemocratic restrictions and bureaucratic restraints and it must be guaranteed against all forms of intimidation from both state and non-state actors. All laws, including related to media, shall be amended to facilitate media freedom.
For previous coverage about the situation in Pakistan click here
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Solidarity day with Pakistani media on Nov. 15-20
Following the release of Imtiaz Alam, Sec Gen of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), after a 36-hour detention, the association will express its solidarity with Pakistani media on Nov. 15 and 20. “The media remains under extreme pressure,” wrote Alam, in a letter to the World Editors Forum.
“TV stations are off the air, two laws have been introduced and punitive measures are being taken to strangle whatever freedom we had.”
“Media bodies, representing working journalists, editors, owners and SAFMA, have decided to resist. We are observing a global day for the protection of media freedom in Pakistan on 15th November. Letters of protest are to be delivered to Pakistani embassies an on 20th November protest rallies will be staged in all South Asia under SAFMA.”
Alam announced the upcoming protest rallies at a press conference today at the South Asia Media Centre. He also mentioned the fact that it was unprecedented to have all private news channels forcibly put off the air since the last four days.
Under the latest Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and Press and Publications Ordinances, electronic media can be fined up to Rs 10 million and a conviction of three years.
All chapters of SAFMA will bring their support to the Pakistani media on Nov. 15 and Nov. 20. Alam is also a World Editors Forum Board member.
Source: SAFMA - Imtiaz Alam, Secretary General SAFMA
The media in Pakistan: a new era?
The pressures of international crisis on Pakistan have had paradoxical effects on the country’s media. Although self-serving rumours freely circulate and religious militants try to police the press, a space of debate about hitherto restricted subjects - the country’s Afghan and Kashmiri policies - has opened up. But will it survive the glare of war?
12 - 12 - 2001
For many Pakistanis, one of the positive outcomes of 11 September has been a change in the country’s ‘Afghan policy’. In the era of military dictator, General Zia ul Haq (1977-88), the media was severely restricted in its ability to report accurately from or about its north-western neighbour. The print media, at least, fought these restrictions with the limited weapons at their disposal: the restrictive official directives that landed on editors’ tables would sometimes lead to newspapers printing blank spaces on their pages – a symbolic gesture of protest against the censorship they were unable to resist. There was no such rebellion in the ranks of the electronic media, which was under direct government control.
The ways of censorship
In the past, even supposedly democratic governments have used various means to control the press, through tax cases, withholding newsprint (which is imported through government channels) or pulling out official tenders, notices and advertisements (which the smaller newspapers rely on for revenue). In 1998, when the country’s largest publication house, the Jang Group, tried to break Pakistan Television’s monopoly on news and current affairs by planning a satellite channel, it became clear how far the government would go to stop this. The democratically elected but dictatorially inclined Nawaz Sharif accused the Group of tax evasion, revived old tax cases, and withheld newsprint, forcing the Group to reduce the size of some of its daily papers from twenty-four to eight pages. Sharif’s henchmen personally pressurised the Group’s owner to support the government on various policy issues and fire, or at least sideline, several journalists (this writer included). He refused, but the stand-off ended only after the idea of the satellite channel was quietly dropped. It is only now being revived.
An easing of these restrictions have led to the launch earlier this year of two other satellite channels which have begun quietly running current affairs talk shows since 11 September, although they have not yet begun news programmes. Although the present military government is reportedly not thrilled about these developments, its response is cautious resignation rather than hostile vendetta; perhaps present geo-political realities leave it with little choice.
Rumours and riots
Since the Zia era, successive governments have encouraged or allowed the media to promote the militant religious point of view, putting progressive forces on the defensive. In the immediate post-11 September period, US President George Bush and the US intelligence agencies’ indictment of Osama bin Laden was seen in Pakistan as an attempt to scapegoat Islam. In this atmosphere, the circulation of two truly global rumours (both circulated the world via email, origins unknown) gained widespread acceptance.
The first rumour related to the information that four thousand Israelis/Jews were absent from work at the WTC on 11 September. This news was prominently published, for example, in the Urdu language daily Jurrat of Karachi on 24 September, in a ‘special edition’ banner headlined Usama vs Bush. A four column strap line in the bottom half of this page asked: “Why were four thousand Jews absent from the World Trade Centre?” The headline below it read: “The USA should reflect on the role of Israel.”
The second rumour was that CNN had passed off 1991 footage of celebrating Palestinians as current. Even the respected English language daily Dawn prominently published the email that started this rumour (ostensibly from a Brazilian student called Marcio A.V. Carvalho) as a letter to the editor titled “CNN using 1991 footage”, on 21 September. Dawn also took this rumour to be fact, in an editorial (“Why this media circus”, 25 September). The editorial’s last paragraph starts: “On Monday night, the BBC broadcast a particularly vicious attack on Pakistan in its special broadcast to South Asia, with the talkshow host putting words in the venom-spilling mouth of the Indian Home Minister. Earlier, the CNN had flashed images of Palestinians celebrating the 11 September terrorist attacks on America within hours of the mayhem in New York and Washington. The only problem was that the footage dated back to the Iraqi attack on Kuwait in 1991. These are only two of the many recent examples of the western media’s insensitivity…”.
CNN’s denials were confirmed by an independent investigation by London-based Iranian filmmaker Taghi Amirani; corrective emails were subsequently circulated – but no newspaper here printed them. So the rumours continue to circulate. At a recent seminar in Kathmandu for political journalists covering political violence, an Indian television reporter also talked about the CNN 'fraud'. She had not come across CNN's denial, or Amirani's investigation.
Opposition to the ‘war’ was under-reported in the Pakistani as well as the Western media, while extremist, right-wing groups were given space and time out of proportion to their popularity, support and numbers. Bearded mullahs make good ‘copy’ although they have never obtained more than seven per cent of the seats in any national election. Footage of a demonstration in Peshawar was broadcast several times a day for three or four days running on CNN. How much is the media complicit in providing them with the publicity they crave, how much of what they do is for that publicity? Sean Langan, the British journalist who was in Peshawar in September, told a gathering back in the UK that as soon the cameras were turned off, the same fierce, bearded men who had appeared ready to kill him earlier, chatted amicably, asking, “You’re from London? How about a cup of tea then?”
The appeal to emotions based on nationalism, religion, security and identity would be considerably hampered if people could see the full picture, as Todd Gitlin pointed out in his 1980 book, The Whole World is Watching.
Religious militants in retreat?
The Pakistan army’s involvement in supporting the Taliban has only recently ended – and that too when the President, General Musharraf, threatened the officers of the intelligence agencies who were still involved, post-11 September, in aiding the Taliban. This involvement is still treated with caution in the Pakistani media. Television doesn’t touch it at all, while some newspapers may mention it, but citing sources like the New York Times or the BBC. And for the first time, reports critical of the government’s Kashmir policy are beginning to be evident in the papers, which have of necessity also been cautious about reporting on the misdeeds of militant groups in Pakistan.
The government has also, until recently, turned a blind eye to their attacks, for example, on development-related non-government organisations in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Balochistan, which border the tribal areas and Afghanistan. Many of these NGOs are working for women’s and girls’ education, and micro-credit schemes, all of which are anathema to the jehadis (militants). At an emergency meeting of some NGOs in Peshawar on 8 October following attacks on three girls’ schools, participants accused attackers of settling scores with the NGOs in the guise of protests against the US attack on Afghanistan.
These attacks have stopped since the arrests in early November of several religious leaders – according to a newspaper editor, at their own request as they feared reprisals from the parents of the boys they sent off to fight and be killed in Afghanistan. In an emotional appeal, one of these leaders, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Qazi Hussain Ahmed warned that after Afghanistan, the next targets would be Kashmir and Palestine. The appeal appeared in a newspaper advertisement (30 November) asking for the people of Pakistan to unite against the country’s “cowardly and pro-Western rulers”. Calling for donations to the cause of the oppressed of Afghanistan, Kashmir and Palestine, Ahmed also asks for a show of unity with these causes every Wednesday and Friday. Although these demonstrations petered out some time ago, the influence of the Jamaat is evident in the prominent display of the advertisement in the powerful (and pragmatic) Urdu-language daily Jang (whose reported print run is more than the combined circulation of all the other papers combined).
Freedom and its limits
Since the government’s about-turn on the Afghan policy and the subsequent rout of the Taliban, there has been open criticism of its previous pro-Taliban policy, on television as well as in newspapers. Guests appearing in the sometimes live talk shows and interviews, on the satellite channels as well as PTV, are critical of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies as well as the Taliban. However, the press in general remains relatively cautious in staying within the limits imposed by religious groups, fearful of their track record for violence.
Religious sensibilities are brittle and easily offended. Journalists usually take complaints in their stride but also – to be safe – promptly print apologies, as happened in two recent cases with The News (Jang Group). One complaint was about a (western) syndicated cartoon on the leisure page, which drew attention to the word ‘g-o-d’ spelled backwards. A female caller threatened to take the matter to the Jamaat-e-Islami. There was a similar reaction to a joke printed in a children’s magazine, also published by The News, in which a little boy asks his mother if God lives in the bathroom, since every morning Daddy banged on the bathroom door yelling, “Oh God, are you still in there?” The newspaper has also had complaints from readers upset at what they call its ‘anti-Taliban’ policies. As these examples indicate, the path to a free media in Pakistan has some way to go.
Print and electronic media prohibited from publication or broadcast that abets terrorists
ISLAMABAD, Nov 3 (APP): President General Pervez Musharraf Saturday promulgated two Ordinances amending laws related to the print and the electronic media, prohibiting them to publish or broadcast statements that abet terrorist activities or terrorism. The ordinances to amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance 2002 and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002 will be effective with immediate effect.
In the Ordinance dealing with press a new section 5A has been inserted which prohibits publication of certain material; photographs of suicide bombers, terrorists, bodies of victims, statements of militants and extremist and any other thing which promotes or abets terrorist activities or terrorism.
The section also prohibits projection of any thing that is based on sectarianism, ethnicism or racialism, that defames, and brings into ridicule or disrepute the Head of State, or members of the Armed Forces or executive, judicial or legislative organs of the State.
It also prohibits any material that is likely to jeopardize or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, besides any material, that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder.
Under the Ordinance, in a situation of emergency, the District Coordination Officer, or the Deputy Commissioner, may suspend the declaration for a period not exceeding 30 days.
The Ordinance dealing with the electronic media similarly prohibits broadcast video footage of suicide bombers, terrorists, victims, statements of militants or anything that abets terrorism.
It also directs the channels to ensure that no anchor, moderator or host propagates any opinion that is prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or integrity of Pakistan.
The amendment prohibits broadcast of any material that defames or brings into ridicule Head of State, members of armed forces, executive or legislative or judicial organs and any program on a matter this is sub-judice. A new insertion also prohibits foreign broadcasts.
The Authority or the Chairman under a new sub-section may seize broadcast or distribution equipment and seal the premises and in an emergency may direct closure for a period as it may determine.
It also prohibits live coverage of incidents of violence and directs installation of time-delay equipment to prevent any such violation.
The violators shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with a fine which may extend to ten million rupees, or with both.
The distributors who violate may face imprisonment of up to one year or fine which may extend to five million rupees, or both.
Text of amended press ordinance
ISLAMABAD, Nov 3 (APP): President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday promulgated an ordinance to amend the press, newspapers, news agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002.
Following is the text of the ordinance:
Ordinance No. LXIV of 2007
to amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002
Whereas it is expedient to amend the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books registration Ordinance, 2002, (XCVIII of 2002), for the purposes hereinafter appearing;
And Whereas the National Assembly is not in session and the circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action;
Now, Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (I) of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance;-
1. Short title and commencement. (1) This Ordinance may be called the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies, and Books registration (Amendment) Ordinance, 2007.
(2) It shall come into force at once.
2. General amendment, Ordinance XCVIII of 2002. In the
Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 (XCVIII of 2002), hereinafter referred to as the said Ordinance, after the words “District Coordination Officer”, wherever occurring, the words and commas “or, where the District Government has not come into being, the Deputy Commissioner” shall be inserted.
3. Insertion of new section 5A, Ordinance XCVIII of 2002.
In the said Ordinance, after section 5, the following new section shall be inserted, namely:-
“5A. Restriction on publication of certain material. (1) No printer, publisher or editor shall print or publish in any book, periodical or paper any material which consists of,-
(a) photographs or pictures of suicide bombers, terrorists (except as required by law enforcing agencies for purposes of investigation), bodies of victims of terrorist activities, statements and pronouncements of militants and extremist elements and any other thing which may, in any way, promote, aid or abet terrorist activities or terrorism:
(b) graphic or printed representation or projection of statements, comments, observations or pronouncement based on sectarianism, ethnicism or racialism;
(c) any material, printed or graphic, that defames, brings into ridicule or disrepute the Head of State, or members of the Armed Forces or executive, judicial or legislative organs of the State.
(d) any material that is likely jeopardize or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or t he sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan;
(e) any material, photographic or in print, that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order; and
(f) any material that is in conflict with the commonly accepted standards of morality and decency and which promotes vulgarity, obscenity, and pornography.”
4. Amendment of section 19, Ordinance XCVIII of 2002. In t he said ordinance, in section 19, after sub-section (2), for the full stop, at the end, a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-
“Provided that in a situation of emergency, pending action under this section, the District Coordination Officer, or as the case may be, the Deputy Commissioner, may suspend the declaration for a period not exceeding thirty days, as deemed appropriate in the circumstances.”
5. Amendment of section 44, Ordinance XCVIII of 2002. In the said Ordinance, in section 44, for the word “Government” the words “Federal Government in consultation with the Provincial Governments” shall be substituted.
Gagged and Shackled
General Musharraf's repression of the media has belied his claims of being a champion of a free media.
By Adnan Rehmat
The more things change in Pakistan, the more they remain the same. When the army chief staged another coup on November 3, 2007, the standard operating procedure was employed for the putsch: soldiers were mobilised, a media blackout was engineered, flights were disrupted, key political figures were arrested and, amid a flurry of rumours, the coup maker came on air on state-run Pakistan Television, as usual around midnight, dishing out the hackneyed justification that the country was in danger and the constitution was not good enough to provide the required remedies.
What distinguished this coup from others was that it was staged in the presence of a vibrant private broadcast media: dozens of television channels and FM radio stations providing Pakistanis news in real time. At least until that moment. Musharraf made sure his team pulled the plug on all TV channels (including foreign ones) and radio stations before the state of emergency was formally announced on PTV - whose control, in keeping with tradition, was also seized beforehand.
What was shocking about the coup was that it was not ostensibly against the government of the day (Musharraf's own) but against the judiciary and the media. Both were blamed for the deterioration of law and order and proliferation of terrorism.
"Glorification of violence by the media," said Musharraf, was a major factor in his decision to impose the emergency.
Even before the emergency was officially announced, draconian curbs were imposed on the media. The measures to control and restrain the media included suspension of broadcasts of all national and international news channels, except the dour PTV, until further notice. Non-government satellite TV channels were prevented from uplinking to satellites and banned from carriage on domestic cable networks - the source through which most Pakistanis have access to independent TV news. At least 34 Pakistani channels were taken off air, including a dozen popular 24/7 current affairs channels such as Geo, ARY, Aaj, Dawn News, KTN, and Khyber TV, as well as international news channels such as CNN and BBC.
Cable television operators in Islamabad said that "strangers who refused to identify themselves" entered their offices at key distribution points just ahead of the emergency and ordered them to do as they were told or risk arrest and closure of business. The "strangers," who were clearly intelligence personnel, took charge of dropping all news and current affairs channels from the airwaves, while retaining Indian entertainment channels and non-news international channels such as National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery to fill up the channel feed lines for public access.
Hours later, the government notified the media of curbs imposed on them through two decrees amending the PEMRA Ordinance and the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, prohibiting printing or broadcasting of "anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organs of the state." Non-compliance with the new restrictions could be punishable by the suspension of a newspaper publication for up to 30 days, and, in the case of television stations, by imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of Rs.10 million, or both.
The amendments also prohibited the media from publishing or broadcasting "any material that is likely to jeopardise or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order." The amendment to the PEMRA Ordinance bans television discussions on "sub judice matters or anything which is known to be false or baseless or is mala fide or for which there exist sufficient reasons to believe that the same may be false, baseless or mala fide."
The amendments restricted the publication or broadcast of photographs or video of suicide bombers, terrorists (except if required by the law-enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation), bodies of victims of terrorist activities, statements and pronouncements of militants and extremist elements and any other thing which may, in any way, promote, aid or abet terrorist activities or terrorism, or their graphic and printed representation based on sectarianism and ethnicity or racialism. Private Pakistani radio and television stations are also banned from signing broadcast agreements with foreign news media without PEMRA's permission, while cable operators and distributors can be sentenced to up to a year in prison for breaking the new rules.
Within minutes of the emergency, PEMRA raided two private radio stations, FM99 in Islamabad and FM103 in Karachi, confiscating their broadcast equipment. Both these stations are known for their 'nose for news' and emphasis on journalism. Several staff members of FM99, according to Station Director Najib Ahmed, who is also the president of the Association of Independent Radio, were roughed up and the station was ransacked.
Soon after, the police raided the Islamabad office of Aaj, seeking to confiscate broadcasting equipment. According to Talat Hussain, the channel's director of news and current affairs, the police wanted to impound a van that is used to broadcast live coverage. The office refused to hand over the equipment as the police team did not have the necessary legal documents. Three days later, the police stormed the Aaj offices again, interrupting the satellite signal it was using to transmit internationally. Police also seized the van.
It did not take long for media organisations, including the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and the Pakistan Association of Independent Radio, to condemn the repression. Huma Ali, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, described the government's actions as "the worst kind of repression against the media in Pakistan in 30 years."
The print media faced equal scrutiny and intimidation. The Press Information Department (PID), at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Islamabad, created a special bureau with instructions to monitor at least 21 national dailies and 13 leading regional newspapers to see that they respect the censorship rules introduced in the new print media ordinance. The newspapers under surveillance include The News, Dawn, The Nation, Daily Times, Jang, Nawa-e-Waqt and Khabrain. The provincial governments were also instructed to monitor compliance with new reporting restrictions. Officials say the PID started sending a report at 4 p.m. every day to the head of the ministry's Home Publicity Department.
In the following three weeks, things got much worse, at least as far as legal and technical restrictions on the media and physical violence against journalists was concerned. Reacting to the stringent curbs on the media sector, journalists across the country adopted an overt mode of resistance and triggered an unprecedented series of protest demonstrations across the country.
In several cases, these protests elicited a violent response from the security agencies. In one instance, on November 20, a record 190 journalists were arrested in a single evening, several of them badly beaten up by the police, in Karachi, as they protested the arrest of 12 of their colleagues earlier in the day. At least 20 of the detained journalists were women. While most of them were released the next day (with several journalists taken to hospitals for medical care), the numbers are surely an international record of sorts - a dubious distinction for Musharraf's media policies that are incongruous with the stated policies of the past five years. In the three weeks following the state of emergency, more than 340 journalists were arrested, surely another record.
While Pakistan's working journalists braved batons on the streets, media owners faced their own intimidation horrors. On November 17, the Dubai authorities summarily gave Geo Television Network and ARY Digital less than two hours to halt their broadcast after reportedly persistent pressure from the Pakistan government. They were two of the leading Pakistani television channels that had refused to sign on the dotted line of an unpublicised 14-page code of conduct (even those signing were not given a copy; the representatives of channels were asked to come to the PEMRA office to read it there and sign) as some other channels had. Both channels, which were registered in Dubai after being denied terrestrial licenses in Pakistan, had already been unavailable to Pakistanis through cable TV distribution networks since the emergency was imposed, although they continued to broadcast via satellite and the Internet. This marked a new chapter in the browbeating of the Pakistani media by Musharraf: he peddled his influence outside Pakistan to get his way against the media of his own country.
This unprecedented development did not go unnoticed by international rights groups. "Musharraf isn't content with muzzling critical media coverage of his repression within Pakistan - now he is pressuring Dubai to abet his crackdown on independent reporting," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The US should publicly call on its close ally in Dubai to lift the bans. Dubai's government should refuse to be an accomplice to Musharraf's assault on free speech in Pakistan. By making itself a party to Musharraf's repression of the Pakistani media, Dubai is damaging its own international reputation. This move sets an appalling precedent and raises serious questions about Dubai's viability as a regional hub for the international media."
Although Geo complied with the orders of the Dubai authorities, it went on the offensive against the Pakistan government by announcing that it would shift its broadcast base to a freer country and continue broadcasting.
After that, matters only got uglier. On November 15, Mir Shakilur Rehman, the owner of Geo, emailed his senior staff informing them that he had received a "threatening telephone call last night" from the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), adding that he had been taken to an ISI safe house in Islamabad where he was given a warning by an ISI operative who told him, "I would like to advise you to please follow the laws, especially the newly promulgated law." MSR, as Rehman is known to his staff, also forwarded an email from a person identifying himself as "Sabir," saying, "Pakistan army is the backbone of Pakistan, don't try to damage it, if u do, u and your family who have looted billions would be hunted down like rats. It will just take a few people to smash your studios, offices, vans."
There was more: MSR told a joint meeting of the APNS, the CPNE and the PBA that he had been subjected to great pressure and threats since the beginning of 2007, including an attempt on his life, for which he had filed a criminal complaint in a city police station in Karachi. He said that he faced the pressures and challenges to the best of his ability, but found it necessary to inform the media community of the situation. He said one of the more serious threats he had received was an email, ostensibly from a Taliban outfit, threatening to blow up his printing presses and the staff of the Jang Group publications unless they stopped printing photographs of young women.
Geo, part of Pakistan's largest media group, has sustained severe financial losses as a result of the ban on its transmission. The government has withdrawn advertising from its main newspapers, Jang and The News, as punishment. The government is the largest advertiser in the country, and under well-established procedures agreed between journalist bodies and Pakistan's Ministry of Information, advertising is supposed to be equitably distributed among publications on the basis of such criteria as newspaper circulation, language, geographic reach and target audience.
Meanwhile, the government initiated talks with individual TV channels, principally Geo, Aaj and ARY and started making unreasonable demands in return for allowing the channels to be not just back on satellite transmission from Dubai but also to be available to viewers through the cable distribution network. While no official from each of these three channels was willing to be quoted, they separately outlined the same set of criteria from the government to their respective TV channels: a ban on all kinds of live coverage; zero criticism of Musharraf, the army and the "PCO judiciary"; a ban on showing visuals of suicide bombers, the bodies of victims either at the site of an incident or at hospitals and clinics, and close-ups of attack sites including damaged vehicles; and, an end to certain shows, including Geo's Merey Mutabiq, Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Saath and Capital Talk, Aaj's Live With Talat and Bolta Pakistan, and ARY's current affairs shows conducted by Kashif Abbasi.
While the channels are willing to compromise on demands for zero or minimal criticism of Musharraf, military and the judiciary and minimising visuals of terrorist incidents, they originally stuck to their demand of the right to live coverage and their signature current affairs shows. However, when the channels did not budge, the government demanded that Geo sack Dr Shahid Masood, Kamran Khan and Hamid Mir (as well as not allow The News senior staffer Ansar Abbasi from appearing on any of their programmes), that Aaj fire Talat Hussain, Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas, and that ARY show the door to Kashif Abbasi and Asma Shirazi.
When Aaj and ARY agreed to drop the shows of Talat Hussain, Nusrat Javed, Mushtaq Minhas, Kashif Abbasi and Asma Shirazi, at least for the time being, they were promptly rewarded by the restoration of their cable network access in Pakistan. Geo, however, refused to fire its top journalists or drop their massively popular programmes.
This has meant that while some of the key news channels are back - complete with hourly bulletins and 'breaking news' - thanks to the unannounced code of conduct that now governs content of news, their news now seems little more than stylish versions of the drab PTV bulletins. To both comply with and simultaneously express defiance, ARY and Aaj are staging open-air "live" versions of their banned shows in public outside press clubs in Islamabad. As an expression of solidarity with ARY and Aaj, Geo is also hosting similar "live" shows of Capital Talk. It is no surprise these road shows quickly became popular and well attended, even with Islamabad's otherwise stereotypically indifferent residents becoming passionately involved.
This is not the only example of defiance of the government's unpopular measures to restrict freedom of expression and access to information. A symbiotic relationship between the media and the citizens started evolving virtually as soon as the state of emergency was imposed. The mainstream news channels set up live streaming on their websites where 24/7 coverage ensured that many of the country's estimated 20 million Internet users logged on. Web news is available in both English and Urdu, and even in Sindhi, to satiate the growing hunger for news.
Interestingly, those in Pakistan with Internet - and therefore access to new sites - are not passively consuming information; they are passing it around through emails and blogs (dozens of blogs have sprung up, providing specific information such as where the next media protest will be held) are using the information to network towards mobilising resistance and arranging protests. This has resulted in independent websites increasing their content.
Because the government thinks in conventional ways, it had not seen mobile phones as a medium for news. However, Pakistan has 70 million mobile phone users. Calls are cheap and texting even more so. Hence, between calling the media and friends on their mobile phones, people are managing to get at least important bits of information every day. After the government disrupted cable TV distribution, most current affairs channels sent SMS text messages to millions of mobile phone users, telling them to log onto their website to get live transmission and text news. According to sources in the telecom sector, daily mobile phone calls have increased sevenfold and text messaging tenfold since the emergency was imposed, indicating the elevation of the status of mobile telephony as a formal source of information.
The radio sector - about 160 FM stations are licensed in the private sector of which around 70 are on air across Pakistan - however, has been severely hit as it is the most vulnerable. Only a handful of stations do regular news bulletins and current affairs programming. To make an example of them, two of the leading radio stations, FM99 in Islamabad and FM103 in Karachi, got the rough end of the stick: their transmitters and broadcast consoles were taken away (along with most other equipment), thereby silencing them. Transmitters are extremely difficult to come by in Pakistan - most are smuggled in and are expensive. Other stations have taken a cue from the crackdown and stopped doing news and information programming to avoid the confiscation of hard-to-come-by equipment. However, foreign radio stations such as BBC and Voice of America have increased airtime for emergency-related coverage and that has caused sales of radio sets to soar.
The week that the state of emergency was imposed by Musharraf, the international media watchdog Reporters sans frontières issued its latest annual ranking of media freedom. Of a total of 169 countries assessed, Pakistan was ranked a dismal 152. This was before November 3, the day the state of emergency was imposed. Thanks to Musharraf, Pakistan is now virtually at the bottom of the heap. So much for "Pakistan first." As far as media freedoms are concerned, it is a case of "Pakistan last."
Gender and Media: Pakistan Perspective
Gender inequality in the media is not “only a women’s issue”, but a question of discrimination and therefore a human rights issues.
Traditionally, the media world has been male-dominated, globally as well as nationally. Men design and define media policies, priorities and agenda including how women are portrayed and presented. It is most often men who make decisions about hiring staff. The ratio of male-female workers in the media is heavily imbalanced in favour of men. It is no wonder, then, that the media is biased against women in many areas. This bias affects images of women in the media, and in turn has a negative effect on women’s development in a society. Gender construction in the media is directly connected with various issues: these include, sexism and under representation in the media and raising the number of women in our newsrooms. Other factors responsible for invisibility of women from media organizations are low hiring rates and sexual harassment at work places.
In examining gender patterns in South Asian and particularly in the Pakistani media, we need to analyse the participation and position of women in the media, and the impact of those positions, on women’s development. By this we mean women’s right to participate in public debates and to have their views heard, and the right to see themselves portrayed in the media in ways that accurately represent the complexities of their lives. Along with under-representation, also comes the percentage of women in top positions. Very few women journalists have made it to the top ladder. For example, in the 54-year history of Pakistan, no woman has ever been editor of an Urdu newspaper and only one woman (Dr. Maleeha Lodhi - The Muslim) has been editor of any English daily. The official wire service APP has never had a woman Director General. The Herald was the only English political monthly that had a woman editor as well as a predominantly female staff. This group later resigned en masse from Herald and brought out another political/social magazine The Newsline. In Urdu and regional language press (that captures more than 80% of the newspaper market), there are very few women workers. The state-controlled Pakistan Television Corporation has had one woman reaching the top position of Managing Director and another woman that of Director Programmes. But state-owned Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation has never had a woman as Director General. The many, new private television and radio channels have no doubt employed many young women as reporters and DJs, but this is where it all stops.
Policies and Commitments
One of the twelve recommendations in the Platform for Action that came out of the Fourth World conference on Women in Beijing focused on the media. Its two strategic objectives were:
• Increasing the participation and access of women to expression and decision making in and through the media and new technologies of communication.
• The promotion of a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media
Based on the above objectives, the NPA (National Plan of Action by Government of Pakistan in 1997) in each of its twelve chapters on women’s development and gender equality, has mentioned the role of media and how to utilize the media for advocacy and policy. These include:
• Appropriate media and education policies for TV, radio, print media.
• Use all kinds of media to propagate.
• Create and promote social awareness.
• Awareness raising among communities on women’s role in nation-building with the aim of achieving gender equality in the law by 2010, priority in the Ninth plan
period to be on personal status law of all communities in Pakistan and on laws affecting women’s physical and mental integrity. At the end of the Plan Period, progress be assessed and priorities be established for the Tenth plan period.
There is a need that these are regularly and positively incorporated in both, private and public sector media.
Analysing the portrayal
The issue of monitoring and advocacy on how women are portrayed in the media is a complicated one. It involves bringing about change in the typical media representation of gender that reflects a certain mind-set and thought process of media persons. To understand the complexity and to go for remedial measures, it is necessary to understand that:
• These images of women are deeply rooted in traditional social practices and interpretation that help the media in constructing these representations.
• Development of this awareness requires dialogue and debate with media critics and activists.
• The advocates themselves need to understand the language and priorities of the media. Ideally, they need to bring to the debate more than just their own opinions. Facts and figures must substantiate the presentation.
• Women’s exclusion from and by media systems leads to apathetic attitudes to women.
• Denying women the right to cover hard news discourages them from pursuing careers in journalism.
• The late working hours required in journalism still carry a social stigma for women
• Media offices fail to provide a congenial atmosphere to female journalists.
• There is a need to examine the role of University Departments of Mass Communication in gender sensitization and, if appropriate, to propose gender-positive changes to the curricula of these departments.
Areas of Concerns
Although the media in Pakistan is becoming supportive towards women in their struggle against discrimination and cases of violence against women are reported more frequently, the existing and at times growing shades of bias and insensitivity need to be examined.
Following are some of the key areas of concern that have been identified as main impediments in the way of a gender-friendly media.
It is felt that reporting on violence against women that includes domestic and institutional atrocities needs much improvement. The women in the cases of rape are the worst victims. A lot of newspapers report with a bias against these women and reinforce the existing non-supportive attitude of the society towards women. No wonder then that the official reaction to rape continues to be that of accusation towards women. As for television coverage of rape and other forms of violence against women, it is noted with much resentment that many a times these victims of violent acts are put through double humiliation with extensive and most of the times unnecessary coverage. This is most evident in cases where high government officials are shown visiting the place of crime and sympathising with the victims and the families.
There is a marked increase in women’s magazines that are home, kitchen and fashion-based. These magazines are focusing heavily on the domestic side of women and trying to prove that every woman needs to be a perfect cook, a tailor, and housekeeper and also be beautiful. The intellectual qualities of women are mentioned nowhere. Their abilities as equal partners in developments are lost between cooking oils and fairness creams. This is a dangerous trend especially because the clientele are across board. The lower to middle and upper class women are being brainwashed to either perform their reproductive duties rather than productive ones or put their physical beauty on top priority. Some of these magazines and digests are also supporting the reactionary views that if women remain within the confines of their homes and stay out of public life, so many of our social ills would be overcome. The same trend can be witnessed in the ever increasing numbers of teleplays that focus on women being the focal point of domestic peace and harmony.
Hypocrisy in media portrayal
The media in Pakistan has no problems while exposing physical and sexual features of women but is reluctant to bring forward issues of HIV/AIDS, sexual harassment, sex and flesh trade, trafficking on the pretext of obscenity. This is regardless the fact that each one of these issues is directly linked with poverty, women’s inferior position in the society and denial of basic human rights.
Role of advertising
It is said that “bare breasts are used to sell everything, be it drinks, jeans, kitchen faucets, cars, medicines, juice,” and Pakistan is no exception. Only, in our print media, the bare breasts are made more prominent by the black ink used by the publications that want to sell their newspapers through women’s bodies. It is argued that many advertisements addressing domestic consumer items like the ones for ‘Lemon Max’, ‘Fair and Lovely’ and certain washing powders portray women in stereotypical roles that limit their capabilities. This is true to a large extent, and the trend has existed since ages. Only the names and brands of a few products may have changed. Fair and lovely now replace Amex cream but the concept is still the same. That women are objects of beauty and if they lack it, they need to do everything to achieve what they lack. The fairness complex continues even today, in fact it has reached new heights.
Reinforcing of the images of the virile men:
The media does portray typical societal image of the ‘real man’, the macho guy. This can be seen through the explicit advertising of all kinds of “sex medicines.” We must look at the question of male-sexuality and advertisements in the newspapers and analyse the linkages between these advertisements and acts of violence and unhealthy male/female stereotypes in the society.
Use of derogatory language
Pakistani media, specially the Urdu and regional language press, indulges in a particular kind of gender-insensitive behavior whereby the language used is not only abusive and sexist, but also extremely judgmental, lacking any investigative or analytical value. While the print media accuses the woman of all sins: ‘Kanwari Maan ne Gunahoon ka bojh kooray key dher par phaink diya’ (virgin mother throws her burden of sins on a garbage dump), saat bachoon ki ma aashna key sath bagh gayi (mother of seven elopes with lover), many teleplays are using biased language like: ‘aurat to hoti hi Naqasul Aqal hey, (a woman is intellectually inferior), baiti ka bojh jatni jaldi uttar jayey uttna hi acha hey (the burden of a daughter needs to be taken off as quickly as possible) etc. These remarks and statements continue to victimize women and reinforce already existing negative images.
Absence of gender-sensitive media policies
Pakistan’s media policy have like all other state-policies, always been determined by the party or agency in power. Thus, in all these years, Pakistan has not been able to come up with a consistent media policy. It varies from mild liberalism to rigid orthodoxy. Ironically, each change has had an impact on women and their development. We have witnessed women getting a greater exposure in some regimes than others. Women have also been subjected to undue restrictions vis-à-vis their appearance in the media. Although the state-policies are only applicable on the electronic media, the print media has also been greatly impacted by the shifts and changes in the way women are projected. The increasing shades of violence and glamour on the electronic media can be seen spilling over into the print media.
But there is hope. Recent media studies (Images by Himmat Society, Changing Images and Ukass by Uks) although few in number reveal that despite this negative and unfavourable scenario, there are attempts to improve the representation of women in the media. Media watch groups are being formed and most of them have taken up the task of identifying the impediments to women’s inclusion and survival in the media industry. Women are not only ready to take on this challenge to change the patriarchal nature of media but are also struggling to bring in more democratic values.
Continued and committed actions are urgently needed if we are to implement the changes necessary to transform the deeply embedded stereotypical images of women in the media. There is a need to develop alternative (gender-neutral and non-sexist) concepts, approaches, and strategies for women’s development for use by male and female journalists and editors, to enable them to understand, recognize and acknowledge the multi-dimensional roles played by women in society. Here, too, everyone involved must play a part in transforming expectations and responsibilities. Readers, writers, owners, editors, advertising agencies, the news agencies, freelance reporters – everyone who is involved in the 2-way communication process must play a part in creating and maintaining a responsive environment, one in which social responsibilities are acknowledged, and a genuine discourse on women-related issues created.
As women working in communication, we see our role as one of ensuring that women’s interests, aspirations and visions are honestly represented, and centrally located and disseminated. The minimal requirement is for unbiased and objective coverage, as we also hope for men: given the present dismal state of media coverage of women in Pakistan, it is not asking too much to suggest that it be transformed into proactive and affirmative coverage.
We would hope that respect for women’s rights, built on acknowledging that responsible and ethical coverage of women is a social obligation, would be incorporated into a revolutionised agenda. Furthermore, that exploitative coverage, in an environment where many women are extremely disadvantaged socially and economically, would give way to the restoration of respect for the integrity and dignity of women.
As things stand at present, the worst elements of the press have stereotyped and dehumanised women, turning them into commodities to be voyeuristically ‘consumed’. Similarly, the excessive use of violence in the media is destroying the human/social sensibilities of Pakistanis. We would do well to consider the costs to everyone, when the weak and vulnerable are exploited this way.
It is possible to change the situation: the capacity is there and through proactive efforts decent and humane sensibilities can be brought to the fore again. Uks has under taken the task of Networking for Formulation and Implementation of a Gender-Sensitive Code-of-Ethics as a starting point for this process. This, when achieved, will undoubtedly help to create a gender-friendly media based on dialogue and debate rather than on stereotypical perceptions and images of women. The result will be media that advance women’s and people’s creativity; media that reaffirm women’s wisdom and knowledge and that makes people into the subjects rather than the objects or targets of communication.
Women in Media: Problems and Prospects
Concurrent Session B-6
The speakers called for a self-regulatory non-governmental media ethics commission like those in the UK and Sweden to monitor insensitive reporting and ensure implementation of a gender sensitive code of ethics for print media.
Tasneem Ahmar, from Uks, Pakistan, discussed her organization’s work to formulate a code that is gender sensitive, consultative and practical in her presentation, Formulation and implementation of a gender sensitive code of ethics for the print media in Pakistan. She said China, Canada and South Korea had such a functional code, but in South Asia steps were only being taken now to evolve it.
Sharing the methodology for developing the code, she said Uks used a participatory and conciliatory approach, working closely with the desk staff of various English and Urdu newspapers and magazines, including The Daily Times, Dawn, The Frontier Post and Herald.
The team provided on-desk training, going over sensitive and insensitive news clippings gathered by Uks with the staff. She said despite interactive and consultative meetings with the editorial staff of various newspapers, the response to the code was mute, especially by media bodies like Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE).
Responding to questions, she said the code stresses issues like cautioning against the victim’s identification in rape cases, abduction, acid-throwing, sexual abuse of a child. About women’s pictures, the code suggests that instead of displaying pictures of glamorous women, those who excel in their fields should be preferred wherever possible. It emphasizes that the pictures of the women attending an event or gathering, published by most newspapers without a caption, should be published with the permission of the subjects.
Sharing case studies of female journalists, she recommended that the working environment at newspaper offices should be made conducive for them, and stressed strict implementation of regulations against sexual harassment. Female journalists should be encouraged to cover a variety of issues, she said.
Beena Sarwar, from GEO TV, Pakistan, in her presentation, Pakistan: women in media, looked at whether and how women’s involvement in print, television, radio, advertising and feature films was making a difference to the status and representation of Pakistani women.
She said there were more women in media nowadays, particularly in the English print media and the relatively new TV channels, including females in top positions. At one stage, all three editors of The News in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore were women.
Women also hold senior editorial positions in the news departments of private television channels and Pakistan Television. There are women directors of feature films as well as advertising agencies. The presence of women in these fields is as essential, she said, as the presence of gender-sensitive male colleagues. “It must, however, be noted that simply being female does not ensure such a perspective; what is more relevant than the gender of the media person is whether or not they subscribe to the dominant patriarchal discourse and framework,” she stressed.
The greater visibility of women not only provides role models for other women but also creates and expands space for them in the public sphere, increasing their acceptability and militating against traditional biases that curb women’s autonomy.
In Pakistan, female journalists have specifically contributed to an increase in reporting on issues relating to violence, particularly karo-kari, besides education, health, sports, entertainment and economics.
But Beena said despite these positive changes, female journalists are up against more odds than their male colleagues, in terms of having to prove themselves more. They face a major problem when covering conflict areas such as lack of access to information, to the physical area under conflict, and to those affected by the conflict. However, she said women have the advantage of access to female victims of conflict, particularly in traditional areas where women might not feel comfortable talking to a male reporter.
She shared the findings of a study by the Karachi Union of Journalists that states: “Women doing daily reporting are few and exceptional, which while disproving that women do not do daily reporting, also show that there are structural barriers such as working late nights.” The study found that “even those women who are ready to work as reporters are not encouraged by their editors or managers. Similarly, there are very few women news photographers in Pakistan.”
Male colleagues still resist the integration of female colleagues, and women’s own preference tends to be working in magazine sections or on soft features. Interestingly, the KUJ report observed “very few complaints against women journalists regarding corruption or black mailing”. But the findings suggest they still avoid reporting on general crime and politics.
The discussant, Ayesha Haroon, editor The Nation, Pakistan, felt encouraged that efforts were being made to train reporters and journalists, and build their capacity not only on the environmental and social issues, but also on how to write and report sensitively based on moral, ethical guidelines, and not just facts or sensationalism. She, however, was dismayed by the fact that less than 5% of media students wanted to become journalists or even adopt any profession. She felt it was important to break this vicious cycle.
In the plenary, the majority agreed that the younger generation was depoliticizing its goals, and that aspirations had now shifted, especially for women a privatization of issues was rapidly taking place. It was felt that this shift was taking place due to the lack of space being given to youngsters since they were increasingly seeing decisions being made at the private level and not the public. It was felt that the civil society had still not caught up with the English and Urdu media in terms of leading debate on controversial issues.
About media moguls, the majority stressed that editors becoming owners of newspapers was an unhealthy trend and needed to be checked by journalists themselves “who should be willing to critique internal governance issues plaguing the media as well as government policies.”
Parliamentarian Sherry Rehman, who chaired the session, said the journalists should be aware of the postmodern environment and the shift towards “corporatization, commodification or tabloidization”.
She said women need to break the glass ceiling, using the mainstream media to highlight more sensitive issues, adding that they also need to learn to use the Internet, which can open whole new vistas of information for them.
All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) is the organization of the major Pakistani newspapers owners. Its election is held every year and three major groups of newspapers are the major players, and they are: Jang Group, Dawn Group and Nawa-i-Waqt Group. These groups are accused for bribing the smaller newspapers and get benefit at large from the successive governments. This is the major body which refuses to give the Wage Board Award to the working journalists. According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the labor laws are violated in the Pakistani newspaper industry but no government dares to take action against this powerful elite of the country.
• 1 What is the All Pakistan Newspaper Society?
• 2 Who were the founding fathers of the APNS?
• 3 Role and actions of the APNS
• 4 Structure of the organistaion
• 5 Awards of the APNS
• 6 See also
• 7 External links
What is the All Pakistan Newspaper Society?
The All Pakistan Newspapers Society is an organisation of all the publishers of Pakistan. It was founded in 1953 by the major, pioneering editors and publishers of they day to facilitate the exchange of views between the editors of the major publications of Pakistan and to protect the rights of newspapers by giving them a voice to appeal unfair decisions against them.
Today, the APNS is a clearing house of sorts for its member publications, safeguarding the commercial interests of newspapers under its membership (including tax payment). For example, if a company advertises in a publication but refuses to pay, the publication complains to the APNS. The APNS gives the agency an ultimatum: pay or get blacklisted.
This is an effective threat. Advertisers and the media have a symbiotic relationship – both need the other to survive. A newspaper’s main income comes from its advertisers (whether government owned or private), and the mass media and its wide range of audiences is the main reason advertisements are so effective. It is therefore very damaging for an advertising agency or a company to be blacklisted by the APNS, which has 243 member publications to date. These publications include weeklies, monthlies, sports magazines, women’s magazines, computer magazines, English and Urdu publications – with the exception of trade journals or newsletters, which are run within the company they originate from. (It is also very unlikely that they will run into trouble with the government considering their content is on leather or the quality of cotton threads or so on).
Neither journalists nor editors, though, have much to do with the dealings of the APNS. This may seem a bit misleading, with the ‘newspapers’ part of the title. The APNS, however, has nothing to do with the editorial content of any newspaper or publication. The APNS exists solely to give newspapers a voice if they are treated unfairly, or, as explained above, to protect their commercial interest. (Editors and journalists have their own organisations – the Council of Pakistan Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) respectively).
Today, there are 71 accredited advertising agencies and 243 publications under the APNS umbrella. The full list of these can be obtained from the latest APNS directory or APNS Awards Journal.
Why did the newspapers/publications of the time need a voice?
When Pakistan first appeared on the map, the Muslims of India got what they wished for after years of struggle. Unfortunately, along with this new piece of land they also inherited many problems. From unstoppable refugees to depleted army supplies to a sore lack of money, Pakistan had immense trouble getting into gear. Not surprisingly, these many problems included problems with the press – or more specifically, problems with freedom of the press. It is often said that the ‘blackest of black press laws’ came about in 1960, (and its amendment in 1963) in the form of [[Ayub Khan’s Press and Publications Ordinance (PPO). It was called such because it gave the government total, absolute control, and journalists were reduced to mere stenographers.
However, it would be a mistake to assume that nobody attempted to interfere with the press before that. To put into perspective how dismal the situation was, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s opening speech was nearly censored by bureaucrats who were unhappy with the reference to the masses being able to worship wherever they pleased, be it mosques or temples. This set the tone for what was to follow for the press. Obviously, the print media had the largest reach at the time. Consequently, it suffered the most.
Who were the founding fathers of the APNS?
Founders: Hamid Nizami, Altaf Hussain – all the important, pioneering editors of the day. In 1950, the Pakistan Newspapers Society (PNS) was founded (to emerge the existing publishers), when the editors of the time realised that the print media a) needed organisation and b) needed a clearing house. However, the PNS didn’t last for very long as it didn’t receive much support from publishers, advertisers or authorities.
Three years later in 1953 the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) came into being. It was badly needed to ‘facilitate the exchange of views amongst newspaper owners on matters of common interest. APNS successfully gave newspaper owners the means to watch over, protect, preserve and promote the rights and interest of the newspaper industry on matters directly or indirectly affecting its rights and interests.’ The Daily DAWN was the founding member. It was decided that the headquarters would be in Karachi, where they are to this day.
A couple of years later in 1955, the Council of Pakistan Editors (CPNE) was established as a representative body of the editors of the publications of Pakistan. Both the CPNE and the APNS struggled against black press laws that trampled over the freedom of the press. They have been successful in varying degrees. For example, they had been repealing the Press and Publications Ordinance passed by Ayub Khan in 1960 (and later amended in 1963). The ordinance gave total control to the government – even reports on the National Assembly proceedings were monitored). Journalists were reduced to stenographers. After a long, drawn out struggle, the law was taken back in 1988 when Benazir Bhutto came to power. Whether this was because of the valiant struggles of the APNS and CPNE or because the authorities concerned did not want Bhutto to have power is too close to call. Nevertheless, to put in perspective how it has expanded over the years, in 1971 it headed 41 publications with only the major publications involved. Today, there are 262, covering the two major newsgroups, Dawn and Jang, and many smaller publications covering most of the accessible region in Pakistan. (This might have more to do with there being more publications in Pakistan now than the APNS’s prowess at recruiting publications. It is much easier to start a newspaper or publication now than it was before – rather than going through the rigmarole of seeking permission from the government or concerned authorities, anyone can inform the government that they would like to begin their own publication. If they get a response within four months, it is assumed that permission has been granted).
Role and actions of the APNS
The focus today seems to be more on commercial than freedom. Many advertising agencies have been blacklisted, usually because they did not pay on time or at all. The APNS, therefore has two functions: first, to safeguard the commercial interests of newspapers and second, to protect the rights of newspapers and publications. Enter freedom of speech. Given Pakistan’s troubled history, though, it has had its work cut out for it in this regard. When it comes to the freedom of the press, the APNS and the CPNE have struggled together. (It is in both their interests, obviously).
There are many instances where the press has been hounded by the government, notably in the 50s and 60s, and even more recently than that. The APNS maintains that it has always assisted the press and fought for its freedom rights. To illustrate how, here is some background information.
In late 1998, the Jang Group office was raided by a government investigative agency under the cover of 'routine examination' for ‘tax purposes’. Along with this routine examination, it was ‘suggested’ that 16 investigative reporters be laid off (from Jang and The News). This was because incriminating stories about the Prime Minister’s family not paying debts were being run. According to the Jang group, the ‘routine examination’ was nothing more than a ploy to stop their newspapers printing these incriminating (albeit true) stories about important officials. Despite being asked explicitly not to publish any more, the Jang group went ahead anyway. The investigative officials were sent away.
Soon after this, the government cut off all its advertising to all Jang group newspapers. The publications had not technically broken any laws, so nobody could be arrested. Cutting off advertising, however, was just as bad, if not worse. Just as companies lose a lot of money if they are blacklisted by an organisation with 242 publications under it, it is very damaging to newspapers to have their main source of advertising taken away as this is how they make most of their money. For the icing on the cake, tax evasion notices were issued to the Jang group and its owners, Mir Shakilur Rehman and Mir Javed ur Rehman amounting to nearly Rs 2 billion. Several FIRs were lodged against him, and he was in danger of being arrested on a wrongful tax evasion charge. To contest all these charges the Jang group held a press conference the following month. Here, the government claimed that it should have a say in which journalist worked for which newspaper. The Jang group’s plan backfired, as the press conference also resulted in the government freezing its bank account and confiscating newsprint – at the end of the day, the group had enough newsprint to be able to print for only three days a week. Salaries could no longer be paid, and newspapers would obviously have trouble getting printed without newsprint. It seemed unlikely that the Jang group could continue publishing for very long.
The APNS then formed a committee from which it could appeal to the government and the Supreme Court. The committee informed the government that it had little right to remove journalists from their jobs. The APNS representatives stated to both the federal information minister and separately to the Ehtesab Bureau chief, that they would not remove journalists from their jobs as a result of government pressure. This was confirmed the same night in a BBC interview and subsequently in correspondence with the Ehtesab Bureau. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, where the government was asked to release the newsprint back to the newspapers. The government declined. Anyone who contested it was beaten up. The PFUJ, silent for so long, now stood up and protested.
When other newspapers provided the Jang group with newsprint (perhaps out of sympathy?), they were threatened by irate FIA officials that their newspapers too would be forced to shut down. In February, the Supreme Court, at the behest of the APNS, once again ordered the release of the newspint, which the government finally released.The FIA officers were withdrawn from the Jang offices, the bank accounts went back to normal and publication resumed.
The one positive aspect that emerged from all this was that the government’s antics meant everyone’s sympathy was directed towards the Jang group – not just the common public (which for the most part is unaware of the mighty struggles of the press) but of journalists, publishers, national and international media organisations.
The Jang group claims that the APNS provided it with no help. The APNS disagrees, and issued a press release in the past to clear up the matter. Here is what the APNS president had to say: "The APNS has been instrumental in reducing the fetters from the Jang Group in the 21-day period in January. During this time, detained newsprint dealer was released from the custody of the FIA without any preconditions. During the crisis period, the APNS also affected the single largest clearance of newsprint reels.
"The APNS played a pivotal role in the opening of hitherto frozen bank accounts in the nationalised banks especially in Habib Bank Limited, and by the end of the 21-day period had facilitated the re-opening of Letters of Credit which had been earlier stopped by the tax authorities."
According to him, the government deliberately delayed both the unfreezing of the bank accounts and the releasing of newsprint, which was not the APNS's fault. The struggles of the APNS, combined with the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) finally achieved the Freedom of Information Ordinance in 2002. (Unfortunately, the Defamation Ordinance also snaked its way in, which prevented freedom being practised the way it should).
Structure of the organistaion
Who owns the APNS? At the moment, Dr Tanvir Tahir. Various owners of the Dawn or Jang group have headed it, being democratically elected by the rest of the officers. What does a newspaper have to do to become a part of the APNS? There is a complicated form to fill in, along with a non refundable fee. (A copy of this form can be found in any APNS directory).
Awards of the APNS
Journalists and advertisers both are encouraged to achieve the best by standards set by the APNS. Should they surpass these standards, they receive awards at an annual awards ceremony (the last of which was held on 31st March 2006). The Advertising Awards were initiated in 1981, with Journalist Awards following in 1982. Advertising Awards are given on a 1st, 2nd, 3rd basis and include: Business Performance Awards
Client Performance Awards
Product Launch Award
Best Copy Award (English and Urdu)
Best Visual Design (colour and black and white)
Public Service Campaign
The Journalist Awards, however, are awarded differently, with only one person winning each category. The categories include: Best Scoop
Best Feature (English, Urdu, Regional)
Best Investigative Report
Best Article (English, Urdu, Regional)
The Wage Board Award is a salary package given to newspapers. The APNS has been consistently denying the Wage Board award to its journalists, and has come under fire for it but consistently refuses to give it, which, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, is against the law, but no one dares to do anything against the county’s elite.
To sum up, then, the APNS is a clearing house and an enforcer of press freedom rules/laws. It is quite successful with the former – the latter is not as easy. The freedom of the media in Pakistan has come a long way, even though it might not have reached where it has without the help of the APNS. But it still has some more to go, even though it has been told (by the present government) it will be fully supported in transforming the press into a free one, bearing in mind that a state can function properly only if the press is free to do its job.
• Wage Board for Journalists in Pakistan
- Pakistan Multimedia links
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Pakistan_Newspapers_Society"
Categories: Newspapers published in Pakistan | Newspapering
Is print media next in line?
Wednesday June 6, 02:34 AM
Local live broadcasts are dead, long live the foreign media' is the buzz in Pakistan. With the gagging orders swiftly implemented against the electronic media through a presidential ordinance on Monday, out goes the only thing for which the Musharraf regime could be credited. Bypassing Parliament, the presidential edict imposes unprecedented restrictions on the broadcast media that include television, radio, the internet and mobile phone services carrying independent news channels' transmission. What's next on the embattled general's agenda, the print media?
The independent news channels falling under the axe include the three most popular ones with a massive following in the country and in the diaspora: Geo News, Aaj TV and ARY Oneworld. Cable operators were told within hours of the general's changing the rules governing the broadcast media to take the named channels off the air. Musharraf seems to have lost faith in his own policy under which the media enjoyed freedom for over five years now.
The 11 amendments made to the laws governing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) now entitle the authority to shut down any TV channel or radio station, cancel operating licences, impose fines and even confiscate broadcasting equipment and seal offices. The mechanism, passed by Parliament and now overwritten by the general, required Pemra to refer an errant channel's case to a parliamentary committee and proceed against a media organ only on its recommendation.
The government move now leaves the affected parties with a sole recourse to file a petition in the Supreme Court against the gagging order. However, if Parliament votes the presidential ordinance into an amended Pemra law, which it is most likely to do, even a petition in the Supreme Court could be dismissed. Therefore, the affected parties and the government, both, are interested in settling the matter out of court on the basis of give and take. Or, given the public mood, maybe not.
The mood in the streets in cities across the country is one of outrage. Protests continue over the closure of the news channels, with newspapers fully echoing public sentiment. The general, it is believed, is emboldened by the forceful show last week of support by the army top brass for his growingly unpopular moves in recent months. For the first time the closed-door meeting held at the army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi Cantonment was covered by all TV channels and flashed around the world - the army's apparent answer to the rousing street welcome the suspended chief justice receives everywhere he goes.
Within hours of the army meeting's broadcast, however, angry protesters rolled out in Islamabad and Lahore, chanting 'Go Musharraf go, loot ke kha gaya GHQ' (GHQ loots and plunders). The sentiment was also brought on by the launch at the weekend of a revealing book launched by the strategic political analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. Titled Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy, the book was sold out within hours of its hitting the shelves. Siddiqa subsequently appeared on TV talk shows, asserting her thesis that the military's economic interests militate against its retreat into barracks and the prospects of democracy taking root in Pakistan. Newspapers, too, gave extended coverage to Siddiqa's thesis, printing excerpts from the book in their weekend editions.
Then the axe fell on live talk shows and news analyses broadcast by TV channels. A minority of Pakistanis who still have access to TV broadcasts via satellite dishes say the channels have kept on the heat. Aaj TV news director Talat Hussain and Geo News' Shahid Masood went the whole hog, saying the government could shut down their channels but they would not 'fall in line'.
The future of live TV broadcasts after being declared illegal seems bleak for now. Given the angry SMS messages received from the public by the affected channels and run by them on the scroll, it is clear the audience wants the channels to be shut down in defiance rather than see them bend before the government. The short-lived freedom of expression, as seen on the airwaves, is history for now.
That said, through long years of dictatorial rule, Pakistanis are accustomed to getting their uncensored news from sources as ubiquitous as the BBC and the All India Radio Urdu services. What to do if your own media is gagged?
The writer is an editor with Dawn, Karachi
Self-Censorship In The Pakistani Print Media
Ramanujan D. Nadadur
Ramanujan D. Nadadur is an undergraduate student in his senior year at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
Though there is no formally enforced press censorship in Pakistan, journalists have been indirectly forced to curtail their reporting due to various external reasons. This article examines the print media's potential role in Pakistan and identifies the direct external causes of self-censorship such as unofficial government controls, the oligopolistic newspaper ownership structure, the legal system and the lack of security for journalists. In addition, the paper looks at specific structural characteristics of the Pakistani print media that have created an environment for self-censorship to thrive, namely the reach and accessibility of the print media and the isolation of the Pakistani journalist from the international community. Finally, the paper puts forth three strategic recommendations to address the problem of self-censorship, first, legal reform to create an environment conducive to free journalism; second, ownership reform to increase plurality and create free market competition in the newspaper industry; and third, development of a self-regulating, professional Pakistani journalist association.
Pakistan : Culture and Recreation
Media and Communications:
In Pakistan, the electronic media is controlled and regulated by the government. There are 35 government radio stations and 3 F.M stations working in the private sector. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was established in 2002 to regulate the media. In public sector Pakistan Television Corporation Limited is running 4 television channels while 3 channels are working in the private sector. The government has also granted Satellite T.V up-linking facility to local cable operators. All of these channels offer free time slot to the activities and messages by non profit organizations.
1279 newspapers are published in Pakistan. The exact contribution of non profit sector in print media is not known, but most of the NGOs publish newsletters while many of them also publish books on their activities or on the issues related to them. The organizations like Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP); Sustainable Policy Development Institute (SPDI); Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC) and NGO Resource Centre have also published a number of books and researches on the activities on non government sector in Pakistan.
Website: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority
Provincial Public Relation Departments, "Newspapers & Periodicals, 2003
PAKISTAN: 5 journalists killed, 6 kidnapped in 2006
Journalist union chronicles last year's attacks against the media on International Press Freedom Day
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Karachi --- Increasingly dangerous trends of violence threatened Pakistani journalists during the past year, leaving at least five of them dead.
Six journalists were kidnapped and tortured by intelligence agencies and over 50 others were injured, says a report of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), released on the occasion of the International Press Freedom Day to be observed on Thursday.
The year 2006 also witnessed new dimensions in violence against journalists, as their families were also targeted. Taimur Khan, brother of BBC correspondent Dilawar Khan, and child Bashir Khan, brother of slain journalist Hayatullah Khan, were killed.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan remained the most dangerous place for reporting.
Reporting also became difficult in the interior of Sindh, and in areas like Dera Bugti in Balochistan. The report revealed that dozens of journalists in the tribal areas and Balochistan had quit journalism.Attacks on reporters and cameramen working for leading news channels like Geo, ARY One World, Aaj, KTN and Sindh TV were reported.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) took action against some of the channels either directly or through cable operators.
Almost all the private news channels remained under 'official scrutiny' and received 'press advice', with some facing unofficial 'suspension', fine or going off air, while TV channel licences were blocked for political reasons.
The report said the government had failed to solve the murder cases of two senior journalists, Mohammad Ismail and Maqbool Sial. A reporter of daily Ibrat and Editor of daily Nijat of Sukkur, Makhdoom Rafiq, were also killed.
The union expressed concern over the sudden closure of some TV channels without paying legal dues to their employees.
Photojournalist Shoaib Khan, who lost his right eye in a suicide bomb blast on April 12, last year, also lost his speech and could hardly walk. The PFUJ appealed to different segments of the society to help him.
One of the six journalists abducted, Hayatullah Khan, was killed, while others were released after torture.
Cameraman Munir Sangi of the Kawish Television Network was shot dead while filming a tribal feud in Larkana district. The PFUJ suspected involvement of a Sindh minister in protecting the killers.
In view of the rising incidents of violence against journalists, an international mission visited Pakistan at the invitation of the PFUJ.
Action was needed for pursuing the journalists' killers, immediate implementation of the Seventh Wage Award for newspapers' employees, labour law reforms and the development of a culture of safety and security of journalists, particularly in the tribal areas, the PFUJ said.
Businessmen highlight role of free press
By Aamir Shafaat Khan
Karachi --- Free press is crucial for creating a conducive environment for businesses to prosper.
Market distortions retard progress. A vibrant objective press can go a long way in exposing self-serving vested interests. It influences public opinion that creates public pressure and helps in minimise distortions. It can also help create an awareness regarding progressive business practices.
Dawn contacted some seasoned business leaders on the eve of World Press Freedom Day to be celebrated around the world on May 3.
These leaders unanimously supported press freedom in the country by saying that it has helped them incorporate business issues in the current public debate.
They think that the print media, which is now wide open in the last few years, should do more in-depth investigative reporting aimed at highlighting corruption, business scams and frauds. The press should also focus on social issues without any fear or favour.
However, they offered mixed views in appearing and giving views on the electronic media.
Some say the businessmen are more interested in appearing on electronic media rather than on print media.
Some leaders think that print media has its own charm, in view of deepness of stories which perhaps TV cannot approach in a short span of time.
Some section of the press is taking full advantage by printing more negative stories by twisting facts which is against good norms of responsible journalism, they added.
President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Majyd Aziz said Pakistan's press has been given considerable freedom which at times they are not able to digest themselves.
But surely the print and electronic media is now free and businessmen can read and watch government views and dissenting voices.
Today the business community and its leadership can speak openly without any fear, and they criticise government's economic policies and its actions.
However, he said it was the responsibility of the press to ensure that matters that affect national integrity, religious freedom and social norms are adhered to.
He said that the government has changed its mindset in the last few years, and now it allows direct criticism both on political and economic fronts from the opposition parties and media representatives.
Former president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Chaudry Mohamamd Saeed, said that the business community usually provides their trade grievances directly to the government, but one cannot ignore the role of the press in making any issue more presentable and important to the government.
"Press is now enjoying more freedom as against the freedom it enjoyed seven or eight years back. I think press is publishing everything without any fear, especially in trade and business," Saeed said.
He said the business community is now focusing on instant TV coverage but print media has its own advantages owing to its in-depth coverage.
He, however, said that scams and frauds in commerce are not reported. Sometimes general public interest is ignored.
He said government bodies, like SECP and other regulatory bodies, hide things with the print media and they appear reluctant to pinpoint any scams.
He added that the print media has helped the business community a lot.
Chairman, Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Masood Naqi, feels that the print media has created an awareness on both political and economic issues in recent years. However, he thinks that print and electronic media need more freedom.
Date Posted: 5/3/2007
Concept Paper for Business Policy Roundtable on Business and Economic Journalism in Pakistan
With an average economic growth of 7% per annum during the last four years, Pakistan has become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The country’s growing economy is supported by higher levels of investment in industry, agriculture and services sectors.
Pakistan’s current emphasis on economic liberalization and privatization requires efforts to expand the scope and quality of information available to both decision makers and the public. The media have the responsibility, as well as the opportunity, to provide their audiences with objective, accurate and timely information as well as critical analysis of economic trends and events. As a result, there is a growing demand for journalists with knowledge in economics and finance to correctly interpret and present economic information and its implications on people’s lives.
Although there has been a marked improvement in economic reporting over the past two decades, economic and financial reporting, especially in print media, is still generally restricted to the reporting of events without providing background and analysis of their implications on Pakistan’s economy. Media have failed to report economic news in ways that could significantly advance public knowledge of economic processes.
Business jargons and buzzwords are regularly used in news reports without explaining the context and meaning of such words, thus alienating ordinary readers and only catering to those who are already involved in business and finance.
To be able to accurately interpret an economic event or trend and its implication on the society, journalists should have a clear understanding of economics and financial concepts. However, many business reporters today lack the understanding of economic fundamentals, such as interest rate, exchange rate and inflation.
Although, a quarter of Pakistan’s economy depends on agriculture, media in Pakistan have a strong urban bias and have ignored rural issues and agriculture. Media should develop ways of adequately covering economic activity and trends in rural areas.
Business journalists need to be aware of human and other information resources available in government, business enterprises and industrial associations. In order to make effective use of these resources, journalists need to understand the structures and functions of stakeholders who are involved in economics and financial activities. Journalists should be able to use access to information laws and regulations in order to promote transparency and to hold the government accountable.
How can media lobby government and business enterprises to release accurate information in timely manner?
What steps should media take to improve knowledge and skills of journalists to interpret, analyze and present economic data?
What steps do media need to take to communicate economic information to ordinary people and not just to business and economic professionals?
What kind of training programmes should be initiated by media training organizations on economic journalism?
What is the scope of in-house training in economic journalists by newspapers and television channels?
What steps can the media take to cover agro based economic news emanating from rural areas?
How can academic institutions teach economics and financial reporting to the students of mass communication and develop writing skills of students of business, finance and economics?
What steps can academicians take towards helping to improve business journalists’ economic knowledge and skills to interpret economic data?
What steps should they take to lobby the government to be transparent and accountable in providing economic information to the public?
How can academic institutions monitor the performance of media in terms of economic and finance reporting?
How can academic institutions better project their research findings to the public through the media?
How can trade associations work with mass communications departments and media training institutions to train young journalist in economic and business journalism?
Business enterprises and trade associations.
What contributions can business enterprises and associations make to improve media coverage of financial market?
How can business houses and associations develop their capacities to work effectively with the media?
What steps are required by trade and industry associations to become more open with information relating to their industries?
On July 18, 2006, a focus group session with representatives of the five key stakeholders was organized to identify issues related to economic and financial journalism in Pakistan.
On September 14, 2006, Pakistan Press Foundation and CIPE organized a Business Policy Roundtable on Economic Journalism in Pakistan with eminent personalities representing five main stakeholders in economic and financial information. The objective of the round table discussion was to review current status of business media in Pakistan and discuss ways for improving its capacities for better reporting of business and economic trends and activities.
The following were the additional recommendations made by participants of the round table discussion.
1.Government - Authoritative sources of business and economic information
Detailed analysis has to be carried out by stakeholders to point out omissions/errors by government in the reported statistics.
2.Business enterprises, business associations- End users and also providers of such information
Editors and journalists should make the full use of trainings and workshops for capacity building of economic journalists.
Train only those who are interested in economic journalism and not students of mass communication.
Trade associations should invest in research and interface with media on a regular basis.
Business houses and associations should develop their capacities to work effectively with the media.
Agriculture sector should be considered as a separate and major stakeholder.
3.Media– Disseminators of information to readers and viewers and promoters of economic transparency
Media experts should impart trainings to the young journalists.
Steps should be taken by media to improve knowledge and skills of journalists to interpret, analyze and present economic data.
Media needs to take steps to communicate economic information to ordinary people and not just to business and economic professionals.
Government should not influence economic reporting rather act only as information provider.
Media should significantly follow-up significant economic stories.
Code of ethics should be developed on reporting standards for owners of media organizations.
Media owners should be considered as separate stakeholders.
Refresher courses for all levels of economic reporters should be introduced.
Businesses should appreciate that media can help them in policy advocacy.
Both sides of the stories should be highlighted while reporting disputed issues.
Focus on regional and particularly Urdu Economic Journalism is necessary.
Job security for journalists is necessary.
4.ACADEMICIANS – Providers of well educated and trained persons to meet the need for economic journalism
Economics should be taught in the secondary school level so as to strengthen the foundation.
Students of Mass Communications should be given knowledge of applied economics issues.
5.GENERAL PUBLIC– End users of the information produced•Greater use of electronic media to put out government’s economic announcements/notices.
Print media should analyze and highlight implications of any economic/financial announcement by government.
Well remunerated economic journalism careers should be introduced.
To be able to accurately interpret an economic event or trend and its implication on the society, journalists should have a clear understanding of economics and financial concepts. However, many business reporters today lack the understanding of economic fundamentals, such as interest rate, exchange rate and inflation. Although, a quarter of Pakistan’s economy depends on agriculture, media in Pakistan have a strong urban bias and have ignored rural issues and agriculture. Media should develop ways of adequately covering economic activity and trends in rural areas.
The Mode of Pakistani Print Media
by Syed Atiq ul Hassan
(Wednesday, October 20, 2004)
"High cost of publication is not only the reason of falling quality of journalism. The lack of professional institutes, facilities to learn the needs of modern journalism, knowledge and feeling the moral & ethical values being media associates are another factor of deficiencies."
Journalism reflects the social and political conditions of any society. The primary function of the media is to inform, criticize and provide analytical thoughts and vision in the best interest of the society. Still when electronic and internet media brought revolution in the media industry; print media kept its high-value status in the society as being a watchdog and opinion-maker. The newspapers are the portrait of a society that holds mirror to the society.
In Pakistan, where the nation is still dealing with the basic communal, economic and political issues; journalism is found to be limited within the reporting of everyday issues. Where insecurity, lack of opportunities, increasing poverty and political instability are promoting corruption, in Pakistan, the media is becoming a commercialized venture rather than a professional service of providing healthy information and publicizing truths without prejudice. If people have reasonable understanding of issues and problems they are less likely to suffer any conflict and the media possesses an important role in spreading the truth and delivering the facts with analysis on issues and problems.
There was a time when there were only 3 to 4 mainstream daily newspapers in entire Pakistan. These newspapers were fervently well objective in their pursuit. They sought to serve well-defined public interests and national cause. Every available resource and professional _expression was dedicated to deliver positive and quality journalism to the readers. The print media was very popular and had a high quality, informative and well focused & positive journalism. The prices of newspapers were so reasonable that the people could easily afford to buy them on daily basis. In return, these newspapers had loyal and regardful readers.
The increasing cost of print production elevated the prices of publications remarkably. In the last decade or so there has been a 200 percent shoot-up in price. Now it became unaffordable for a common person to buy these daily publications due to their high prices.
Consequently, there are many cheap publications in the market now but the situation is more depressing than ever before due to their ambiguous journalism. Now, one can find up to 20 to 30 daily print publications in every metropolitan city. These newsprint publications contain 4 to 6 pages and prices ranging from 2 to 5 Rupees. Though these newspapers provide timely reporting on the events taken place in the day, however, analyzing the contents, facts and counting the commercial items in there one can easily conclude that these daily newspapers are hardly delivering healthy, informative and objective journalism except exhilarating stories which are easy to sale to the common people.
Of course, commercial aspect of any publication is an essential part along with the professional and missionary aspects for a successful publication. However, there must be a fair balance between these dimensions bonding with the moral and ethical values. Regrettably, the newsprint industry is now so much commercialized and becoming business endeavor that daily newspapers now look like advertising material. Even, top leading newspapers could not save themselves from crossing the boundaries of ethical needs and found comprising with the journalistic demands. They are also found in the war of money-making. More than half of the page are advertisements on the front-page in the leading newspapers.
High cost of publication is not only the reason of falling quality of journalism. The lack of professional institutes, facilities to learn the needs of modern journalism, knowledge and feeling the moral & ethical values being media associates are another factor of deficiencies.
It is understandable that in the present world, media is pervasive, highly competitive and there is a high demand of exciting stories. Nevertheless a journalist can still fulfill the demands of the task without loosing the prime responsibility of national and civic interest. Media provides voice to various segments of the society and also plays role of being an influential force on public leaders and government heads. A journalist can still do the job without comprising on principles and short term incentives and put himself away from yellow journalism.
Media in some cases may have some degree of unprofessional and biased attitude as this can be seen in any modern society but it can be improved. This can be achieved if the professionals can be provided with regular trainings, workshops and seminars and equipped with professional skills.
An independent and strong media is absolutely essential for any civilized society. In Pakistan, media is very free compared to other countries in the region. However, compared with the western world, still the freedom of press is not being fully served in the interest of the society and still found behind in playing its vital role in making the peoples’ thoughts as one civilized nation. In the west, indeed, there are cases of impartiality in the media yet the press freedom never rules over the national interest and ethical values.
For Pakistan, This Was the Year of Media Revolution
Nasim Zehra, email@example.com
Although Pakistan media’s struggle to create its independent space dates back to the days of the military dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq, it is with the opening up of the electronic media that the scale and scope of the media’s impact on society has been the most profound. 2004 was yet another landmark year for the Pakistan media. Just when people believed that the market for English newspapers had been exhausted The Daily Times entered with its intelligent reporting and sound editorials and columns.
Similarly the proliferation of private television channels including new ones like Business Plus and the independent Sindhi and Pashto networks fulfilled the need to approach national issues from differing vantage points.
The media organization SAFMA pulled a coup by organizing a historic first-ever trip of Pakistani journalists to Indian Held Jammu and Kashmir in October 2004. This led to the first splurges of on-the spot reporting of the condition and struggle of the Kashmiris plus their view of the India and Pakistan.
Electronic media is now facilitating development of Pakistan’s art and culture. It allocates large chunks of time to entertainment programs.
Promoting the spirit of social work to help the disadvantaged Geo, Indus television and PTV televised fund-raising galas, telethons and special programs for handicapped.
State institutions managing and regulating the economy, law enforcement, foreign policy and planning are all brought under media spotlight.
The power scene and political landscape, which includes the unconstitutional power managers and the constitutional political players, are thoroughly and candidly reflected in the media through news reports, columns, editorials, interviews and discussion programs.
Numerous political events including back channel meetings and negotiations are regularly reported often pushing the uniformed and civilian players to explain, if not justify, their moves.
Although media reporting does not alter the moves made by either party, it does expose public to reality of Pakistan’s power play and politics.
National security has been broadened to look at nonmilitary issues focusing on internal causes of threat to state and society — be it political, economic, cultural or social development deprivation.
The growing power of media in Pakistan is an unmixed blessing; it has become the “theme setter” for the national and local discourse, it extends to virtually all aspects of life through its programs like Shadi online and Career Online. It has opted for advocacy role urging the public to reclaim the reading habit.
Significantly it has brought a national debate on the national language of Urdu. Previously most debates were restricted to English print media or the state-controlled Pakistan television.
The tremendous progress and significant contribution of the media notwithstanding, the media has to equip itself better for the task it is performing. As the key player in reconstruction of thought and a contributor to the reform of the state and politics the media has to lead a more informed debate. Currently through facilitating an inclusive discourse, Pakistan’s media help to blunt the dangerous and potentially destructive phenomena of exclusion and marginalization.
Media have brought opinions from ideologically and politically opposed camps on a common platform. Extreme views and “final truths” do not stand the test of facts and holistic perspectives.
“Holy cows” and unholy heroes are knocked out. Ultimately a vibrant and candid media facilitate the holistic human development catering to the economic, cultural, spiritual and political needs.
It challenges the power of the strident and self-serving within the national and international context.
Media are “the other” collective power that challenges global and national state power. Ultimately the media of Pakistan have not only publicized the other side of official truth like the Iraq war, the Palestinian issue, the selective application of objectives like distractions of the weapons of the mass destruction, at home it has also broadened space for inclusive politics, creative culture and a conscious intellect.
The state needs to follow the trend set by Pakistan’s media that a system in which everyone has a stake must be created for Pakistan. 2004 easily is the year of the media.
Pakistan, although lying within the zone of global disorder, has also produced a less noticed spectacular feat: The challenging of strangleholds that impede a society’s intellectual evolution, block its cultural creativity and weaken its sensitivity.
Indeed media alone have facilitated this process. Tapping the intellectual energy generated from the tensions of a state and society in transition, uncovering the immense creative energy and recognizing the unhinging of “control” paradigms dictating global affairs, Pakistan’s media entrepreneurs have combined the advantages of technology with the available market opportunity to create this incredible media revolution.
CAPSULE REPORT - Pakistan Human Rights Watch concerned about increasing attempts by government to muzzle media
The following is a Human Rights Watch letter to President Pervez Musharraf:
Letter to President Musharraf About Attacks on Journalists in Pakistan
April 27, 2007
General Pervez Musharraf
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Dear General Musharraf,
Human Rights Watch is concerned about concerted and increasing attempts by the Pakistani government to muzzle the media. The attempt to silence Aaj TV, the violent attack on Geo TV, improper pressures on Dawn, and torture and other physical attacks on journalists in many parts of the country are only some of the well-known examples of attacks on the media. Independent monitoring groups such as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) continue to document the steady erosion of press freedom under your government. In October 2002, Pakistan was ranked at 119 out of 166 countries in the RSF Press Freedom Index. By December 2006, this ranking had slipped to 157.
Though your government has consistently claimed that the media in Pakistan enjoys "unprecedented" freedom, this remains limited to publications and television channels that support your government and you personally.
English language media, which is much more visible to diplomats and the rest of the world, retains more freedom to criticize the government than Urdu media. Similarly, broadcast media is given less leeway than print media because of the former's greater outreach. While the opinion pages of English language newspapers are full of critical comment, journalists and editors are under substantial pressure not to publish factual stories that expose government or, in particular, military misdeeds. Threatening calls from intelligence, military or unknown sources are a regular hazard for many journalists. These have increased since your March 9 decision to undermine judicial independence by arbitrarily dismissing the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The Pakistani print and electronic media have faced immense pressure, coercion and even violent attacks by your government in order to tone down coverage of anti-government protests and the peaceful campaign to restore the chief justice.
In the years since the 1999 coup, the Pakistani government has systematically violated the fundamental rights of members of the press corps through threats, harassment, and arbitrary arrests and "disappearances." Many have been detained without charge, mistreated and tortured, and otherwise denied basic due process rights. The government has sought to, and frequently succeeded in, forcing publications to engage in self-censorship.
We call on you to bring all such acts by the government and its agents to an end.
Physical Attacks on Pakistani Journalists
A number of journalists have gone missing, and some have been killed, after covering stories considered sensitive by the military. The security forces have been implicated in all of the following examples:
- In June 2006, journalist Hayatullah Khan was found dead six months after he was abducted in Waziristan. Evidence suggested the involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
- Military personnel were involved in the arrest in April 2006 of Munir Mengal, a Baluch journalist, in Karachi. He was finally allowed a visit by his family in December. He remains in military detention.
- On June 22, 2006 Mukesh Rupeta and Sanjay Kumer were finally produced in court and charged after being held illegally by the Pakistani intelligence services and repeatedly tortured for over three months for filming a Pakistani air force base used by the US army.
- During four months of illegal detention by the military ending on October 27, 2006 Mehruddin Mari, a Sindhi-language journalist, was tortured through electric shocks and sleep deprivation.
- Dilawar Khan, a BBC correspondent was kidnapped and threatened for several hours in November 2006 by ISI agents.
In none of these cases has there been any attempt at prosecuting the perpetrators.
Human Rights Watch has also received information of verbal threats to scores of print and television journalists by intelligence personnel, government officials, and persons believed to be acting on the government's behalf. Many of those threatened have refused to be named for fear of reprisal.
Attempt to silence Aaj TV
On April 22, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a show-cause notice to the privately owned Aaj TV accusing it of inciting violence by covering proceedings of the Chief Justice's case being heard before the Supreme Judicial Council. PEMRA threatened to shut down the channel within three days in the absence of a satisfactory explanation.
On April 25, the Sindh High Court temporarily suspended PEMRA's notice.
PEMRA's move followed the airing of programming deemed critical of your government's actions in the controversy surrounding the illegal suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Aaj TV has told Human Rights Watch that it is not in violation of any regulations and that the order is an excuse to shut down Aaj TV as punishment for its critical coverage of recent events.
Human Rights Watch urges your government to withdraw the notice issued to Aaj TV and end the use of PEMRA as an instrument of censorship and coercion.
Violent Attack on Geo TV
It was commendable that you personally and speedily apologized for the March 16 attack by riot police on the Islamabad offices of the Jang Group, which houses the newspapers Jang and The News and Geo TV. The police broke into the offices, damaged property and terrorized journalists while they attempted to cover an anti-government protest underway outside. Human Rights Watch urges your government to investigate and prosecute the officials who ordered the police to attack the television station.
Curbs on Broadcasting
Private television channels in Pakistan have faced increasing levels of governmental intrusion and harassment in the last year in particular. In November, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned cable and satellite operators from airing Sindh TV though the ban was rescinded a fortnight later. In September 2006, police in Punjab province instructed cable operators to take ARY TV off the air after it broadcast footage of police officers beating three journalists. In August 2006, PEMRA refused to renew the license of Mast FM 103, a private radio station because of objections to its programming, in particular a weekly BBC-made "Earthquake Special" that was critical of your government's handling of the October 2005 earthquake. The station lost a legal battle for the right to air Urdu programming from the BBC World Service in November the same year.
Improper Pressure on Dawn
Since the 1999 coup that brought you to power, Dawn has highlighted the suppression of civil liberties and the progressive undermining of civilian institutions in Pakistan. It is one of Pakistan's most highly regarded newspapers, well known for high standards of journalism and the integrity and honesty of its staff.
The federal and Sindh provincial governments have attempted to pressure the newspaper Dawn into supporting its view on events in Baluchistan, the volatile tribal border areas with Afghanistan, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, "disappearances," covert support to militancy in Kashmir and human rights issues by withholding government advertising, a revenue source on which Pakistani papers rely heavily. Since December 2006, Dawn has seen its designated share of government advertising slashed by two-thirds. The government is the largest advertiser in the country and under well established procedures agreed between journalist bodies and Pakistan's Ministry of Information advertising is supposed to be distributed fairly on the basis of such criteria as newspaper circulation, language, geographic reach and target audience. In response to a petition filed by Dawn, the Sindh provincial government agreed to abide by the above criteria and the Sindh High Court in its order cautioned the government that a failure to do so may "entail consequences of contempt proceedings." These proceedings are now underway.
The government has also withheld a television broadcast license from the Dawn Group, even though the application was approved by PEMRA. By withholding advertising and arbitrarily preventing the issuance of licenses, the government is making it clear to the Group that it wants an end to coverage it deems negative.
According to Dawn, senior officials in the Ministry of Information have made clear to its Chief Executive that government advertising has been curtailed to rein in critical reporting.
Right to Seek Information
Human Rights Watch reminds you that journalists have the right to freedom of movement to seek information. We urge your government to act in accordance with the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information - standards drafted by international law and global rights experts in 1995 and endorsed by the United Nations special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on the independence of judges and lawyers.
Johannesburg principle 19 provides that "governments may not prevent journalists from entering areas where there are reasonable grounds to believe that violations of human rights or humanitarian law are being, or have been, committed. Governments may not exclude journalists or representatives of such organizations from areas that are experiencing violence or armed conflict except where their presence would pose a clear risk to the safety of others."
Your government has consistently violated this principle in Balochistan, Pakistan's tribal areas and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Your government's failure to allow freedom of expression as required by international law has become yet another symbol of the lack of rule of law in Pakistan, which is fundamental to the promotion and protection of human rights. We urge you to demonstrate a commitment to genuine media freedom by bringing to an end the use of coercion, intimidation, kidnapping and torture, or the threat of it, in government dealings with the print and electronic media in Pakistan.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your reply.
Pakistan: Protesters in Judge's Case at Risk of Violence Press Release, March 15, 2007 ( http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/03/15/pakist15492.htm
"With Friends Like These...": Human Rights Violations in Azad Kashmir Report, September 21, 2006 ( http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/kashmir/2006/index.htm
Pakistan Country Page ( http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=pakist
The information contained in this capsule report is the sole responsibility of Human Rights Watch. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit Human Rights Watch.
ON ENTERING Zamir Niazi's room that is strewn with papers and books, the first thought that came to mind is how this frail man, struck by a serious illness, managed to produce three books on the history of the press in Pakistan. It would have been a gargantuan task for even a hale and hearty writer immersed in his subject and determined to publish his findings, let alone one who is practically bedridden.
However, Zamir Niazi dismisses both his considerable feat and his illness with a nonchalant gesture. When after the success of his first book, he fell ill, he initially felt helpless. "I told my wife I have so many things to write. I have so many things in my mind. My registers and my cuttings' files are a mine of information. About two dozen books can be written."
Since he was in no position to use the typewriter, his wife persuaded him to dictate or write out his thoughts. At first he demurred, but then took her advice. "In the beginning I couldn't understand my own handwriting. But in the last ten years, I have developed a good hand in both Urdu and English," he chuckles. "I would write and my son would type it out and give it back to me for corrections."
The trouble Zamir Niazi took over his books, both before and during his illness, is adequately reflected in his works. As somebody said of his first book: "The Press in Chains is not a book. It is a library." He has not only talked of the post-partition period but also of the Indian press before 1947. In his book, The Web of Censorship, he talks of the self-censorship newspapers often resort to, bringing out the insecurities that are inherent in those who wield the pen in a nation with a poor record of democracy. So densely packed with information are all his books, that no subject is exhausted altogether. One can only agree with the author that a number of books on the press in Pakistan indeed remain to be written.
Zamir Niazi started collecting press advices routinely issued to newspaper editors by the authorities during the 1965 war. Somehow, even after the war, the press advices did not stop. These not only placed taboos on the publication of certain topics but also issued instructions on how many columns a particular article could occupy. He now started pasting these advices in right earnest in a register. He merely wanted to maintain a record - no thought had entered his mind of writing a book at this point. Then in 1971, his precious collection vanished mysteriously (he hints it was taken by a colleague who is now dead). A crucial part of the history of the press in Pakistan was lost with it. "I fell ill, I even thought of leaving the profession," he reminisces. Luckily, his dejection was short-lived and he soon resumed the practice of gathering advices as well as other material on the press.
Also, in the early seventies, on a visit to India, he went to the Bombay Press Club where he was amazed at the sight of scores of books written by journalists on the local press. On his return, he found several books on the Western press in British and American libraries. That set him thinking. He tried to persuade several journalists to write on the press in Pakistan but no one wanted to take on the task. Finally, Babar Ayaz, a colleague, advised him to write a book himself. Thus Zamir Niazi's first book saw the light of day in 1986 during the dark era of General Ziaul Haq's rule. According to him Babar remained a moving spirit behind all the three books.
So why wasn't such a sensitive subject ripped apart by the censor's scissors? Unaffectedly modest, Zamir Niazi replies, "I was considered a non-entity. No one knew me, not even professionally since I was working on the desk, and according to a senior colleague, 'a very unsocial' person. Only the journalists with whom I had the honour of working knew me."
Under these circumstances, according to him, the authorities thought that the banning of the book would lead to a celebrity status for the author and that the book would sell like hot cakes. They were also afraid this would then become an international event.
In fact, after the publication of the book General Zia flaunted the book in front of foreign journalists concerned about the freedom of the press in Pakistan. He particularly pointed out the last chapter, 'Dark Tunnel' which dealt with the heavy handedness of the authorities towards the journalist community as a vindication of the accusations of undemocratic actions levelled at the military regime.
But it is not as if Zamir Niazi spares the journalist community in either his conversation or his works. He points out the fact that during the Zia era, newspapers were provided with as much newsprint as they asked for without any consideration for the actual circulation. The newsprint that was left over inevitably found its way to the black market. This was a kind of 'perk' the authorities allowed the journalists, in order to win them over to their point of view. The ministry of information had a list of those who resorted to this practice. With Zia's demise and with the induction of the first Benazir Bhutto government this list found its way into the hands of the professed champions of press freedom and human rights. But, for some reason or the other, the list remained unpublished.
However, Zamir Niazi remains optimistic about the press. "I think that the press is behaving most maturely. If at all a code of ethics is necessary it should be manned, financed and implemented by the newspapers. There are three or four groups of newspapers that can do this but (the representatives of these) should take some token money from smaller newspapers also. No government should play a part here."
But more than a code of ethics, Zamir Niazi believes that the two most important qualities a journalist must possess are conviction and conscience. This may lead to some tricky situations, such as the issue of the notorious 'White Paper' of the Zia regime where noted journalists had a hand in giving shape to the document.
He mentions one, the late I.H.Burney, who had suffered under Z.A. Bhutto. "He was one of the main architects of the paper but he didn't accept any payment from the government. He didn't use the government transport. He even refused the editorship of the The Pakistan Times and Morning News." But did his conviction and conscience justify his aiding a military set-up that was, for all intents and purposes, illegitimate? Zamir Niazi again reiterates that the late journalist had acted according to his conscience. Even later, Mr Burney confided in Zamir Niazi that he had done the right thing.
He dilates on the subject of conscience by giving the example of rules governing gun sales in the US. "Despite constraints on the gun sales, the murder rate has gone up in the US," he says. Rules and laws, he believes, are no good unless accompanied by a deep conviction that one must follow these.
Zamir Niazi is now working on another book, A fettered freedom, that will include past articles written by the author and relating to the press, plus the period 1990 to 2000. Invariably, he would have brought readers up-to-date with a long struggle for freedom that began before 1947 and will go on for years to come.
Subeditor, Dawn 1954-1962. Chief subeditor, leader writer, Daily News 1962-1965. Edition in charge, editor of magazine section, news editor, Business Recorder 1965-1990. Editor monthly Recorder and weekly Current. Contributed articles to various local and foreign publications
Books: The press in chains (1986), The press under siege (1992), The web of censorship (1994). Also edited Zameen ka nauha (2000). Two more books under print: Unglian figar apni (Blood-dripping fingers) and Haath hamare qalam huvay (our severed hands)
Press advices, 1980-1981
May 26, 1980: Anita Ghulam Ali has issued a statement supporting the demands of college teachers. It is not to be published.
Oct 25, 1980: A rally by Dadu medicos against Zia at the Bagh-i-Quaid reception in Hyderabad. It should not be published.
Dec 22, 1980: An eye camp is set up in Quetta. Give prominent display to it.
May 28, 1981: Crime reports should be taken on inside pages (not more than two column headlines).
July 31, 1981: Awami Express accident: statements suggesting 'sabotage' should not be published.
Aug 14, 1981: Photograph of Begum Zia can be published only with dupatta on.
Sept 13, 1981: The NWFP administration has prohibited the entry of Benazir Bhutto to the province. Two officials failed to implement this order, resulting in termination of their services and suspension of a DSP. This report should not be published.
Nov 7, 1981: A students raid on the censor's office in Karachi. The item should not be taken.
(These advices have been taken from The web of censorship).
Source: Daily Dawn.
Gagging the media
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
ON the third anniversary of the death of Zamir Niazi, as recounted on this page on June 19 by Dr Tariq Rahman, his friends and family met to remember him. There is not much that one can add to what has already been written about Zamir – the sole detailed and accurate chronicler of the sorry history of the press in Pakistan and the assaults by every government, during his lifetime, on its freedom.
His first book, 'Press in Chains', was published in 1986, during the repressive Ziaul Haq era during which journalists who transgressed the imposed laws were flogged. In this book, Zamir tells the full story of the first major governmental attack on the press. This was the taking over by the government of President General Ayub Khan of Progressive Papers Limited, the group owned by Mian Iftikharuddin, amongst the publications of which was the highly respected and outspoken Pakistan Times.
On April 18 1959, early in the morning, Ayub’s minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, arrived at the house of Mazhar Ali Khan, the Pakistan Times editor, to advise him that two days previously an amendment had been made in the Security Act and under this amendment all PPL papers had been taken over by the government. The PPL offices had been surrounded just after midnight and appropriated, Mian Iftikharuddin’s house had been searched and all relevant material removed. The Pakistan Times lived on thereafter for unmemorable years, fully muzzled by the government, until it died, discredited and unmourned.
After the PPL takeover came the promulgation of the Press and Publications Ordinance of 1960 on April 26, 1960. This PPO was the darkest of the dark press laws we have so far had the misfortune to suffer. It was the brain-child of unprincipled ambitious minds, of devious and powerful civil servants, Qudrutullah Shahab and Altaf Gauhar. And two government ministers who actively encouraged the general were liberal Manzoor Qadir and democrat Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. All of them have denied their involvement.
The PPO lived and thrived for 28 years until in 1988, Presdent Ghulam Ishaq Khan appointed as his information minister friend Ilahi Baksh Soomro who was helped by a ruling of the Shariat Court and managed to nullify many of the nasty effects of this shameful ordinance.
There is little that is new under the Pakistani sun. Most governments have attempted to demolish the judiciary and some have succeeded. What they have inevitably done next is to turn their malicious eye on the press.
Things by and large were chugging along fairly smoothly in the Republic, with a few of the normal political, social, ethnic and sectarian upheavals, until suddenly this March President General Pervez Musharraf, either in a fit of madness or on the advice of sycophantic scoundrels, undertook his assault on the judiciary, via the person of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. In this day and age, this was a foolish thing to do and, of course, it has had, and will have, repercussions not easy to handle by the largely inept and corrupt political crew hired by the general.
Having been praised time and again, and rightly so, for being the head of state and government to allow the maximum freedom ever allowed to the press, and having allowed and encouraged the electronic media to multiply and flourish, he should have known that the affair of the Chief Justice would receive full coverage – particularly as someone on his staff had been so stupid as to invite into the camp office the PTV cameras on the morning of March 9 when Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry came calling on him at his, the CJ’s, request.
The subsequent actions were fully reported, the lawyers’ protests aired all day, the Chief Justice’s travels to Lahore aired day and night by all the private news channels, and then came May 12 in Karachi, again the affair of the Chief Justice. Blood was amply shed, mayhem and disorder reigned, the whole nation was witness to what had happened in Karachi that day and later, most shamefully, in Islamabad that night. Again, either in a fit of madness, or on ‘advice’ from his dangerous advisers, the president general decided (as all his predecessors have done) to act against the press freedom he had so wisely accorded.
This day will be remembered in Pakistan as the most recent Day of Infamy. Fifty lives were lost and some two hundred injured. Those responsible were three – the president general who never tires of preaching enlightenment and moderation and who rightly wages war against terror, his coalition partner, the Pir of London Town, and the man directly responsible for the safety of our lives and properties, the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The latter was besieged at the Karachi airport, surrounded by his impresarios among who shines his Cambridge Chaudhry chauffeur.
As soon as the CJP heard the news of the killing of the first citizen could he not have announced : “I do not wish people to die for me. I am cancelling my visit. Fly me back to Islamabad.”? What were our ‘leaders’ and protectors trying to establish – that in Pakistan brawn rules over brain?
The first shot fired from the government canon came on June 2, when the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) addressed a letter to the managements of the private television channels informing them that the decision had been taken to ban any TV coverage of any events related to the affair of the Chief Justice. They were directed not to air any programme that “is likely to encourage violence or contains anything against [the] maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national and anti-state attitude.”
Also not to be aired is “anything which amounts to contempt of court” or “contains aspersions [on] the judiciary and integrity of the armed forces of Pakistan . . . .”. Non-implementation of the ‘directives’ would invoke legal action under the Pemra ordinance of 2002.
Then, on June 4 came a veritable volley – the Pemra (Amendment) Ordinance, issued two days prior to a National Assembly session (a coincidence?), which authorises Pemra to take action against television channels violating the rules. Inter alia, it is authorised to confiscate the equipment of any broadcasting channel and to seal its premises. It may also suspend the licenses of TV channels and violators of the rules are to be fined Rs.10 million.
Pemra is authorised to make any new rules it may deem fit. As reported in this newspaper, “The ordinance revokes many of the major provisions of a law passed by parliament three months ago after a two-year debate and consultations with the stakeholders.”
The excuse given by the general for this move against a media which he had freed was that in airing the events of May 12 in Karachi the media had transgressed accepted norms of decency by showing dead bodies, some headless or limbless, dying people, wounded people, and a large amount of blood and gore. He rightly stated that the electronic media in democratic lands of this world avoid bloodshed and scenes of death.
This may be so, but the main reason for clamping down on the media is to shut out the day-and- night-long scenes of the various ‘caravans’ paraded around the country in support of the Chief Justice and his lawyer supporters. Shots of thousands of members of the beloved awam flocking to greet and meet the Chief Justice were not appreciated, as were not the shots of him being showered with rose petals by his black-coated ‘mock hunger-striking’ friends.
The ordinance, signed by General Musharraf, states that all action that can be taken by Pemra is required “for the reason of necessity in the public interest.” Now, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has defined the public interest “as the general welfare of the public that warrants recognition and protection – something in which the public as a whole has a stake.” It would seem ironic that the apparent need to control acts of violence committed by the government itself should be subject to any sort of censure in this day and age.
The ordinance has to be approved by the National Assembly within four months, failing which it stands as lapsed.
It is to be hoped that President General Musharraf will heed history and not allow himself to be wrongly led by his ministers, advisers and bureaucracy and accept that the press should retain the same freedoms that it had prior to June 2 2007, and by his own hand repeal in its entirety the amendments made by the promulgation of this new ordinance.
He should realise that in this 21st century, with the electronic media being what it is, power vests not only in the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, but also in the media, though anyone reading the document that passes for our Constitution will find no reference to the institution of the press and the electronic media. As with the other three institutions, the media should be independent and strong as without it an effective check on those three cannot be ensured.
‘Press under siege’
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
FIDDLING with facts and mutating the truth has always been one of the prerogatives assumed unto themselves by the governments of Pakistan, the first major act of distortion having occurred soon after the death of Founder-Maker, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
On August 11, 1947, before the flag of Pakistan had been unfurled, Jinnah addressed the future legislators of the nation. He declared : “You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State...... We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”
This did not suit the ‘ideology’ and the motives of the men who came to rule after Jinnah’s death, so it was suitably and expediently altered to read: “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.” It was their firm intention that religion, caste and creed for all times to come would indeed be the business of the state. And it was the mutilated version of Jinnah’s speech that was given to an unsuspecting Hector Bolitho who shortly after the great man’s death was commissioned by the government to write his official biography (Jinnah — Creator of Pakistan, published in 1954 by John Murray — now out of print.)
The old hackneyed saying about being unable to fool all the people all the time does ring true, for the original unexpurgated speech was resurrected much later, in 1962, when the government of Ayub Khan published ‘Jinnah — Speeches as Governor-General of Pakistan 1947-1948’, and the vital uncensored passage was included in the August 11 speech. A limited number of these books was published and it soon went out of print. To Benazir Bhutto’s credit, in 1989 she had 3,000 copies of the book reprinted.
(A couple of indicative passages, in keeping with Jinnah’s words of August 11, which are not too well known can be found in this book. The first was in a broadcast to the people of Australia in February 1948 : “But make no mistake, Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who, of whatever creed, are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan.”
Later that month, speaking to the people of the United States, he said more or less the same thing : “In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state, to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims — Hindus, Christians and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.”)
Manipulation of the press, the harassment of journalists, and other ‘ways and means’ of control have also never been foreign to our governments (and sad to say, the press itself has far too often been guilty of collusion and self-censorship). Last week, I remembered my old friend, one of our true champions of press freedom, Zamir Niazi, who died in June 2004. His three-book chronicle of the history of the Pakistani press — ‘The Press In Chains’ (1986), ‘The press under Siege’ (1992), and ‘The Web of Censorship’ (1994) remain the only true account of the history of the country’s press up to the early 1990s. He was working on a fourth volume when he died, and thus the many sins committed by the ‘democratic’ governments later in that decade have not yet been fully recorded in book form.
What brought Niazi to mind was a July 25 front-page headline in this newspaper — ‘Reporter of daily Star held — Dawn Group’s statement’. Apparently, “Mr Rashid Channa, senior Pakistani journalist for the Star,” one of Karachi’s evening newspapers, had for many months devoted himself to reporting on the various vagaries of the Sindh government, its chief minister, its ministers and factotums, very little of which could possibly be of a positive nature.
Channa had been picked up from his house at 1330 hours on Sunday July 24 by the usual police posse and driven away into detention from which he was released at 0145 hours on July 25. The operation was undertaken on the orders of a Dr (of what?) Mohammed Ali, the chief minister’s ‘special’ secretary.
According to the statement, the stand-off between the provincial government and the Dawn group had started some six weeks previously when the government “moved to ban all government advertizing in the Dawn Group papers in an attempt to silence critical opinions being expressed...”. That having failed, it resorted to a bit of kidnapping.
A report in the July 25 edition of the Star, under the headline: ‘Duplicity, hypocrisy of enlightened moderation exposed — CM Arbab, govt, declare unholy War on Press’ told us that, “Special secretary to Chief Minister, Mr Mohammad Ali Arain, on the advice of Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim ordered the arrest of Mr Rasheed Channa, senior journalist and reporter of the Star and of Mr Hameed Haroon, CEO of the Dawn Group of Newspapers. The police official refused to arrest Mr Hameed Haroon saying the instructions were illegal as Mr Haroon was neither a reporter, editor, printer, nor publisher...”.
On July 26, Dawn reported that the police had registered a case against Channa at the Sachal Police Station charging him with the attempted murder of one Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Chishti.
It later transpired that FIR no.233/05 had indeed been registered at 1215 hours on July 24 2005, the day after Channa had been taken off by the police, by Allama Abdul Ghaffar Chishti, s/o Mian Ghulam Fareed, resident of Flat No.706/4 Billy’s Heights, Block 18, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, under Sections 324/34/427/109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and recorded by duty officer Mohammad Rasheed of Sachal Goth PS. The event described by the good Allama had taken place at 4-Mian Road, 200 meters ahead from Kiran Cancer Hospital. A translation from the Urdu of his statement to the police reads :
“I live at the above mentioned address. I am the president of Anjuman Tahfuzul Ulema Ahl-e-Sunat. I registered a case against my in-laws which is under investigation. In this connection, Rasheed Channa, Pervez Iqbal Arain and Kashif contacted me and offered to settle the issue. I told them the conditions on which to settle the issue. They replied they would talk to my in-laws. All of a sudden their attitude changed and they said I should settle the issue unconditionally, otherwise I would face the consequence.
“On July 23, 2005, Rasheed Channa asked me to come over to Kiran hospital at 11 p.m. from where we would go to Haji Bundu Khan restaurant to discuss the issue. I, along with my nephew, Wiki Shahzad, brother Abdul Karim, went to the hospital in my car AC-0975. When we reached Kiran hospital we found Rasheed Channa, Pervez Iqbal Arain and Kashif seated in a white Sunny car V-3777. They signalled us to come ahead. When we moved about 200 meters ahead they stopped their car and I also stopped there and got out of my car. They also got out of their car and with the intention of killing me they took out their pistols and opened fire. I lay down on the ground and a bullet pierced the mudguard of my car on the right side. They escaped in their car. Since I was scared I could not file a case in time and now I have filed this report. My case may be registered against Rasheed Channa, Pervez Iqbal Arain, Kashif/Noor Hussain for attempting to kill me at the behest of my father-in-law Iftikhar Ahmed by opening fire with their pistols. Therefore, action should be taken against them.”
Channa claims that he has never met or seen either the Allama or any of his co-accused. Dr Ali’s relationship to Chief Minister Arbab Rahim is reminiscent of that of Imtiaz Sheikh’s to Chief Minister Jam Sadiq Ali. In actual fact, it is even closer, he is the Arbab’s ‘brother-in-law’. And as we know, every good Muslim believes that ‘Saari khudai ek taraf, jooru ka bhai ek taraf.’ In President General Pervez Musharraf’s regime of enlightened moderation should such token figures be allowed to play a role?
A news item in yesterday’s Metropolitan section of Dawn tells us that on Friday Channa applied for and was granted pre-arrest bail by the Sindh High Court. He will be harassed until the Arbab’s reign is brought to an end.
Archive for the ‘Press & Media’ Category
‘A mortal is God in all his might, This I will not write.’
November 21, 2007
“We had no funds, no files, no office, no dictaphone. And yet, with nothing in hand but a pencil, we wrote the most glorious chapter in the cultural renaissance of our people.”
-Kirshen Chander (1966)
Media has a strong tradition of resistance in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. From the refusal of the father of Indian journalism James Augusts Hickey to bow before the British raj during the formative period of Indian journalism to the Karachi journalists’ arrests after the imposition of emergency in the country, media has been the custodian of a great tradition of resistance in this part of the world.
The journalists like Faiz Ahmed Faiz have always bear the burnt for saying nay to the unconstitutional steps of the dictators taken for their survival on the name of national interest.
Dr. Iqbal Ahmed recounts the tale of a Bosnian newspaper “Oslobodenje” in his essay, “Intellectuals Role in Society,” which is similar to the present ordeal being faced by the Pakistani media.
The Oslobodenje was the Bosnia’s largest daily; it was established during World War II as an underground paper by the partisans who fought the fascists and after the break-up of the Yugoslavia it supported the Bosnia as a country.
Dr. Iqbal writes, “ Oslobodenje practised what it preached. Its editor is Muslim, deputy editor is an incredibly brave Serb woman, the staff are mixed - Muslim Serb, and Croat. As such, the newspaper anti its staff became a target of Serb nationalists, an easy target because its offices are located in the ‘death alley’ of Sarajevo within range of Serb gunners, The newspaper and its staff sustained many miunes but did not miss a day of publication printing often a single page. Oslobodenje became a symbol of Bosnian resolve, Sarajevans’ will to live and, above all, of Serb failure to destroy the values for which Bosnia stood. “Why don’t you move the paper out of Sarajevo?” I asked Editor KemaI Kurspahic soon after he had survived a bomb, ‘we can’t”, he replied simply, “Oslobodenje is a lighthouse”.
The same is the condition of Pakistani media after the imposition of the emergency when the government attempted to gag the media and silence the dissent shamelessly. The president who used to brag about the exemplary media freedom closed two popular TV channels in just one go and let the other operate mutilated.
But unlike the past the lawyers and the civil society have rose and speaking the truth to the dictator hand in hand with the media as legendry Faiz puts it.
“If pen and ink are snatched from me, shall I
Who dipped my finger in my heart’s blood complain -
Or if they seal my tongue, when I have made
A mouth of every round link of my chain?”
Posted in News, Pakistan, Politics & History, Press & Media, South Asia, Thoughts | 1 Comment »
An unending siege of the press
January 27, 2007
Perhaps our crafty custodians of thinking, morality and virtue sensing the hollowness of their Orwellian rhetoric lifted the senseless blanket ban on the popular blogging site Blogger. This arbitrary action was a futile exercise and did nothing except frustrating the users. More the people can’t be stopped from thinking in the age of participatory and personal media.
Censorship in Pakistan has a long history and its first victim being the founder of the nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah. On 11 August 1947 when he delivered his first speech “You are free, you are free to go to your temples…..” before the Constituent Assembly; within hours some shadowy figures became active and “tried to have some secularist passages of the speech blacked out in the press” (Press In Chains P. 35-39) But luckily the then editor Dawn Altaf Hussain came in their way and threatened to go to Qauid. So the attempt to muzzle Qauid’s voice failed.
The second major attack was the closure of illustrious Civil & Military Gazette(C&MG) when in 1949 it carried a story by its Delhi correspondent that Pakistan and India are devising a formula to partition Kashmir. Pakistan denied the report so the paper published the denial, regretted the report and fired the correspondent. But on 6th May 1949 16 West Pakistan newspapers carried a joint editorial by the title of “TREASON” and asked government to suspend the (C&MG) publication “for a suitable period.” The East Pakistani editors “refused to join the chorus” and the government closed the paper for six month and the paper where once writers like Rudyard Kipling had worked (1882-1887) never recovered from the closure.
Ayub Khan within the first week of his coup detained Syed Sibt Hassan, Ahmed Nadim Qasimi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz who worked for Progressive Papers Limited (PPL) and went a step further and took over the PPL papers on April 1959 and this move was aimed at reining the PPL from roaming in the “DISTANT ORBITS AND ALIEN HORIZONS” as the PPL backed Progressive Ideology. In 1964 National Press Trust was established and all the PPL papers were given to this monster and NPT role in the blackening the image of journalism is by no means hidden on any one.
During the Bhutto era the intimidation and muzzling continued with the same zeal and the most shameful event was the re-arrest of the Altaf Gauhar editor Dawn on the ridiculous charges of “ forging a passport, possessing obscene literature, contraband liquor” and what not.
The Zia era contrary to its name was a dark tunnel for the journalists and in 1978 four journalists were flogged within 90 minutes after a phony court ordered it. The later democratic governments of Benazir and Nawaz were no better than their military comrade-in-arms. Daily Khabrain, Daily Jang, Friday Times and many more papers and journalists faced their wrath. The violence from the ethno-religious outfits is in addition to this.
The same things are happening in the era of our enlightened despot but thanks to the advancement of science and technology now the citizen journalism has opened many avenues to defy ridiculous decrees of rulers. The history of journalism in Pakistan is a fairy tale of courage, hope and idealism against the dictates of the mighty. Pakistani bloggers are with their comrades of pen in spreading the voices of dissent and the massage of hope.
“A lifetime’s devotion,
And yearning have I given,
Not in vain,
That the nightingales play
To roses in full bloom.
It must come, it’ll come.
My reason, my dream.
Does it matter,
If I am gone?
Others will share the ecstasy-
All my roses,
All my nightingales.”
(Faiz poem Tr. M.A. Akhyar Press in Chains)
Pakistan in press freedom crisis: Rapidly skidding towards lawlessness
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the rapid disintegration of press freedoms and journalist safety in Pakistan over the last six months, which has seen four journalists killed (with all four cases still unsolved), four journalists detained and tortured by intelligence agencies, the child brothers of two journalists brutally murdered, and scores of other violent incidents and threats to journalists.The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the rapid disintegration of press freedoms and journalist safety in Pakistan over the last six months, which has seen four journalists killed (with all four cases still unsolved), four journalists detained and tortured by intelligence agencies, the child brothers of two journalists brutally murdered, and scores of other violent incidents and threats to journalists.
Journalists detained and harassed in attempts to suppress information in Pakistan
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the detention and intimidation of journalists in Pakistan, in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to block access to information and silence journalists.
According to an IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), five journalists - Masood Khan, Anwar Hakim, Haseen Ahmed, Zafarullah and Moammad Ibrahim, were harassed and detained by officials when travelling with a group of journalists and lawyers to the tribal region of Bajour to investigate the killing of 83 people on October 30.
"Violence and intimidation, especially by authorities, is a cowardly method of suppressing information and is a blatant attack on freedom of expression," IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
"When will the government of Pakistan learn that a free, safe and independent media is vital to a healthy and prosperous democratic society?" Warren said.
Pakistan's already fragile press freedoms took another blow overnight as a private Sindhi language TV channel was reportedly suspended.
According to PFUJ, the SINDH TV owner was informed by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory (PEMRA) that the station had been shut down on orders from high officials.
The suspension is reportedly in response to footage filmed by SINDH TV journalist Pervaiz Narejo, of the murder of a police officer which allegedly implicates a former MNA, close to the ruling group.
As a key witness in the murder case, Narejo has received death threats, and, given current levels of violence against journalists and their families, has been forced to flee to Karachi.
The PFUJ reports, Pakistani cable channels have previously been suspended after showing coverage of police brutality, while SINDH TV itself has been threatened after running stories on Baluchistan and honour killings.
According to the PFUJ, Pakistan authorities use PEMRA to suspend private TV channels and bargain with them for more favourable coverage.
These latest attacks on freedom of speech come just days after the IFJ wrote to Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf to demand immediate action on journalists' safety and press freedom in Pakistan.
It has been a bloody six months for journalists in Pakistan. Four journalists have been killed, four more detained and tortured by intelligence agencies, journalists' families targeted and countless more incidents of violence and threats against journalists.
"The Pakistan government must act immediately to ensure the safety and rights of its journalists are protected, in order to support a free press and to foster an environment that values diverse and objective reporting," Warren said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries
Dawn of a new era in Pakistan
Muhammad Shaikh June 15, 2007
Tags: Media , Pakistan , PEMRA
Role of Media
The month of March this year may be considered a turning point in the judicial history of Pakistan, but more so it will be remembered for manifestation of the powerful role played by the media, both print and electronic, as a responsible
institution of Pakistani society. This was the month when for the first time in Pakistan’s history media proved that it has finally matured fully to stand up and be counted amongst the basic national institutions of the country.
It is argued that tinkering in the matters relating to judiciary by the executive did not start suddenly on 9th of March. There has been a long history when judges of higher judiciary had been removed summarily, sometimes unceremoniously, by the executive authorities because of their relatively independent disposition, without much notice taken by the civil society. It was only a few years back that a batch of judges, including the chief justice of Supreme Court, were not “invited” to take a new oath of office, practically sending them off to their homes, without much reaction from the civil society.
This time it was different because the media was able to convey through news stories and comments the consequences of a ‘dependent’ judiciary to common man in general and to the legal fraternity in particular. In this episode of national history, the role of electronic media, especially that of private satellite television channels originating from Pakistan, was the most important. May 12 will be considered as a dawn of a new era in Pakistan’s electronic media history, when its correspondents and cameramen put their lives in danger in Karachi to cover war-like conditions, quite independent of threats and calls of intimidation, either from the government or the political groups famous for their resort to means of violence.
The electronic media has not reached to present place over night or without any resistance. The state apparatus had started tinkering with the idea of regulating the satellite and cable sector much earlier, in mid 1990s. However, the first effort came in form of the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (EMRA) Ordinance, promulgated by President Farooq Ahmed Khan Laghari in February 1997, during a caretaker set up in the country, few months after dismissal of a political government and just before new elections.
This ordinance brought the function of awarding licenses for electronic broadcasting under the state’s purview through formation of a new state regulated authority. The stated objective of the Ordinance was to “enlarge the choice available to the people of Pakistan in the media for news, current affairs, religious knowledge, art, culture, science, technology, economic development, social sector concerns, music, sports, drama and other subjects of public and national interest.”
Next move on part of the government came three years later in 2000 when Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was given the responsibility to issue licenses and regulate the sector. The PTA framed ‘Cable Television Regulations 2000’, wherein the operation of cable TV networks was subjected to issuance of license from PTA on payment of a prescribed fees as well as the aspirant operator’s holding ‘right’ credentials. The PTA made it clear that the “operator would not telecast the programme that contain immoral material.” It further bound the licensees “to show sensitivity and respect to all ethnic groups and minorities.”
Fearing non-compliance of the instructions on part of cable operators, the PTA also formed monitoring committees on national as well as regional basis. The Director General PTA stated in a communiqu� in August 2000 that “there is a possibility of contravening these provisions by Cable TV Operators. Keeping in view this possibility, it has been provided in the Rules and Regulations that Central and Regional Committees would be setup to monitor the cable TV operation with respect to quality of transmitted signal, contents of the broadcast… complaints of customers etc.”
This step on part of government could not deliver desired results, as PTA’s scope of operations was too broad with primary focus on the telecommunication function. In view of this President Pervez Musharraf established, on 1st March 2002, Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), through an ordinance. This Ordinance vested the Authority with the power to regulate the establishment and operation of all broadcast and cable television stations in Pakistan. It said that the “Authority shall be responsible for regulating the establishment and operation of all broadcast and CTV station in Pakistan established for the purpose of international, provincial, district, location or special target audiences.”
Under the present rules, the issuance of license, either to establish a broadcasting station or a cable operation center, is subject to the clearance of the Ministry of Interior, which checks the ‘credentials’ of the applicants. As official publication of PEMRA states that “only the security cleared applicants are therefore awarded the license to broadcast after the fulfillment of all other requisite conditions.” So when it comes to award a license to establish a satellite television channel in the county, the state through PEMRA and other related agencies have sufficient power to deny or delay it. Even when a license is issued it could be suspended.
In addition to that the state as well as the vested interest groups can fully exploit the dependence of satellite television channels through ‘cable system’ that requires access to utility poles to lay their cables. The government agencies authorized to allow or otherwise the usage of these poles have a definite influence over the cable operators. Then the local cable operators frequently face hooliganism at the hands of political and religious extremist groups who do not like showing of views contrary to their beliefs. The intimidation techniques adopted by most of these groups range from physical violence to cutting and damaging of their cable network.
This is in addition to that the government can through its law enforcing machinery weed out anytime what is undesirable. And this is not only true for Pakistan but for India also: David Page and William Crawley have quoted a cable operator of Mumbai saying that “the argument that international broadcasters can beam whatever they want into India is not strictly speaking true. For instance, the police commissioner may order us to shut down BBC, and we will be obliged to do so.” Even under normal circumstances the poor cable operators have to deal with petty police officials who keep on extracting their pound of flesh on one pretext or the other.
Despite of these risks and dangers, the demand on part of general public for satellite channels have made cable television operators bold enough to bear the brunt of government and powerful groups and the sector as one of the fastest growing sector. An official publication of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) admits this stating that cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media venture” with an investment in this segment “over Rs. 7.28 billion” in 2003. Same publication puts the annual growth rate in this sector at 132%.
Looking at the role played by electronic media during the present judicial crisis, despite of the fetters tied to its feet, one cannot help but to observe that media in Pakistan has come of a age and could not be restrained by other powerful players in the affairs of the state for a long time to come.
ELECTRONIC MEDIA WAR
The fittest is to survive
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Sep 02 - 08, 2002
People at the helm of affairs have finally arrived to the conclusion that keeping the private sector away from the ambit of the electronic media may not be possible any more in the face of global proliferation of Information and Satellite technology. As a result, an array of satellite tv channels have started invading the target countries with social, political and economic interests..
Although the credit goes to the present government of breaking the ice with the permission to the private sector in this so far exclusive domain of the government, yet the initiative to this effect was actually taken by the former information minister Javed Jabbar in the care-taker government of Moin Qureshi.
Due to bureaucratic complexities and stringent policies, a number of private tv channels have got registered themselves abroad specially in the United Kingdom. Some of them have already started their telecast such as ARY, Indus and another is in the process of transmission namely GEO. Although these channels are known pro-Pakistani as their management originally belongs to this country, however, they obviously preferred to launch their operations from abroad to remain, what they described, free from the clutches of social, political and administrative curbs within Pakistan.
Realizing the ground realities, our neighbouring countries especially India has gone a step ahead of us by allowing foreign investment even in the print media. According to informed sources, as a result of this Indian policy to allow foreign investment in the print media, a large number of leading publishing houses are coming in either in the form of joint ventures or to start their own publications.
All the leading foreign news agencies have already opened their full-fledged bureau offices in Pakistan while leading world television channels have also made arrangements for flow of information from Pakistan. The situation calls for a decision to allow foreign investment in the print and electronic media from Pakistan as well which would certainly bring investment at a massive scale, opening job opportunities and also help promoting Pakistani products abroad.
It may be noted that with the opening of doors of electronic media for the private sector, a large number of interested parties have approached to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for putting up their radio and tv channels in Pakistan. It is however yet to be seen that how many of them are going to survive in the face of strong competition from local as well as foreign television channels. Naturally, survival will be for the fittest alone.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has started receiving a large number of applications both for setting up radio and television stations in Pakistan.
According to informed sources, PEMRA has so far received 64 applications for setting up radio stations in private sector, while the last date for submitting applications for the television station is September 20, 2002.
Out of 64 applications for radio transmission, five will be given permission in the initial stage and almost similar number of tv broadcasting houses will be given permission in the private sector, it is learnt.
It may be noted that PEMRA has invited applications from Pakistani companies, incorporated under the Companies Ordinance, 1984 for grant of licence to establish and operate a Satellite Television Broadcast Station (International Scale) from Pakistan. It is however heartening to note that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the area of electronic media which, used to be the exclusive domain of the public sector has been opened for investment in the private sector.
Practically speaking, it was however the need of the hour to respond to the global trends as the cutting edge information technology and satellite technology have done away with all frontiers, borders and all administrative curbs against the spread of information around the world. One has no option but to accept the ground realities.
According to Information Minister Nisar A. Memon, the government is actively working on different laws relating to the media, including the press and publication ordinance, access to the freedom of information and defamatory laws were likely to be promulgated before the installation of new government as a result of forthcoming National and Provincial elections.These laws were discussed during the cabinet meeting and expected to be promulgated before October 10. The government would soon be setting a 100 Kw radio station in Mirpur, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and a 100 Kw short waves radio transmitter and a radio repeater in Northern Areas to relay programs for Skardu. The government has also decided to establish a bureau office of Pakistan Television at Gilgit. The PTV office is most likely to commence working from next month.
Outlining the media policy, the Information Minister has observed that our mission should be to protect and project Pakistan through information management. He emphasized that it was the responsibility of the print and electronic media to bring out facts objectively. He said that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had invited bids for putting up radio in the private sector. The government was planning to award five radio licences before October 10. He further said that licences for launching television channels in the private sector would also be given soon.
Syed Sajjad Ali Shah, Chief Justice of Pakistan in a foreword of a book on Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Pakistan says "all over the world, the citizens' right to acquire knowledge and information is increasingly being proclaimed and recognized as a fundamental right. The internaional human rights instruments as well as national constitutions and laws, acknowledge and safeguard this right." An essential concomitant of this right is to right to freedom of information and freedom of the press. The right to know and have access to information is essential, not just for the harmonious development of an individual's personality but also the socio-economic evolution and political development of the society. Such right is inextricably linked to making the government accountable, and its dealings and operations transparent, better governance is indeed the central theme and ultimate objective of the democratic philosophy. James Madison, a founding father of the American Constitution, linked the right to, and freedom of, in formation to the very survival of the democratic system. "a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy, or perhaps both", said James. His contemporarian and equal in vision and wisdom, Thomas Jefferson, observed that the freedom of the press is the "enternal vigilance" to guard the performance of the government. The degree to which the press is free and independent, is the degree to which it can perform its role as a watchdog on the conduct of the government and its officials. It helps in preventing the government from showing laxity or inefficiency or becoming corrupt. As a former Editor-in-Chief of Time Inc. Henry Grundwald wrote "Even a democratically elected and benign government can easily be corrupted when its power is not held in check by an independent press".
The right to know, acquire knowledge and information is indeed our cultural legacy, rooted in Islamic law, philosophy and thought.
Syed Fayyaz Hussain, General Manager, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) while expressing his views on the liberalized electronic media policy of the government said that the private sector is being encouraged to keep pace with the global situation of technological advancement. He said that the private sector in Pakistan which has always risen to the occasion would certainly deliver the goods in the electronic media sector also. He said that in the face of satellite technology proliferation around the world which knows no boundaries, limits or frontiers you have to flock together. However, social responsibility demands that the new TV channels coming in the private sector are expected to serve the interest of the nation and the country. As an authority we have to give them a sense of direction however the entire responsibility to promote and protect the interest of the country lies on these private channels. When asked how the growing number of Pakistani tv channels would survive economically especially in the face of limited market and economic resources, he was of the view that it is the test of true professionalism. They would have to carve a place for themselves in the market. Fayyaz recalled the days when the Information Technology was being introduced in Pakistan. At that time people had expressed fears that introduction of information technology may add to the problem of unemployment in Pakistan. Contrary to that fears and apprehensions, IT helped creating new and diversified job opportunities especially for the youngsters. He expressed the hope that as a result of private sector participation in the electronic media, possibilities of new economic dimensions can not be ruled out. Introduction of information technology in our economy is one of the best precedence to that effect, he observed.
In order to keep pace with the growth, the government has decided to engage the private sector in the electronic media. So far the TV channels representing Pakistan are not registered within Pakistan. TV channels like Indus, ARY etc are operating from abroad. He was of the opinion that license to the private channels may have no negative sign on the economy, instead it will help creating healthy competition among themselves which consequently improve creditworthiness of the information quality of the programmes presented by the electronic media in Pakistan.
He reiterated that the policy is to give a sense of direction to the electronic media to promote national culture, represent a true national colour on the most effective and power mode of transmission to help building a positive image of the country in and around the world.
Federal Information Minister Nisar A. Memon has also recommended to the business community to come forward and establish television, radio and sports channels in the private sector.
The minister said that government has recently established Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) which is fully responsible for issuing licences to private TV and Radio channels.
He was of the view that press and electronic media in Pakistan are totally free to write and criticize government policies as well as give coverage to political opponents, adding the government issuing no press advice as well.
There was no law specifically enacted to establish Pakistan Television Corporation which was incorporated as a joint stock company in 1967 and then, upon the Memorandum and papers went through minor amendments. The entire share-holding rests with the Federal Government.
Shalimar Recording Company Limited (SRC) which operates the STN TV channel is also a joint stock company in which Government holds 54 per cent shares.
In 1990 SRC awarded an exclusive, monopolistic contract to a private sector company known as Network Television Marketing (NTM) to provide all programming and advertising to the STN Channel originally known as PTN i.e. People's Television Network. However, the Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 1997 contains a section that excludes the continuation of private monopolies in electronic media.
Shaheen Pay television, the country's first "wireless" cable TV operates as a corporate enterprise registered under the Companies Ordinance 1984 in which a foreign investor holds 50 per cent shares, a Pakistani based group holds 24 per cent shares and the Shaheen Foundation, sponsored by the Pakistan Air Force for the welfare of retired personnel, holds 25 per cent shares.
In October 1996 a Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had admitted a constitutional petition filed as public interest litigation by Javed Jabbar and Mubashar Hasan requesting the court to declare that the air waves of a country being a national asset, the issuance of a licence by the then-Government of Benazir Bhutto in 1995 to Shaheen Pay TV and to a 3 FM radio stations was an illegal action which was challenged on the grounds that the award of this licence was made on a non-transparent basis and that it is monopolistic in nature.
ELECTRONIC MEDIA REGULATORY AUTHORITY ORDINANCE.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a law acknowledges the right of private citizens to use the air-waves of the country for the operation of privately-owned radio stations and TV stations. Also for the first time, the law permits electronic media to broadcast news bulletins other than those originated by the Government-controlled PTV and PBC.
Freedom of Information Ordinance 1997 (promulgated January 1997-lapsed in May 1997).
An Ordinance to provide for access by citizens to the public record.
This ordinance enables citizens to obtain a wide range of documents constituting the record of all public offices including policy statements, contracts and papers relating to transactions, licences, agreements and official orders given on various subjects.
At the same time it excludes certain types of documents such as noting on files, record of banking companies, material relating to the personal privacy of an individual etc. the law provides for a simple and easy procedure to obtain such documentation and also contains a provision for an appeal to an ombudsman in case the request for a document is declined.
The law enables government to categorize documents as being "classified" and thereby refuse access to such documentation. Nevertheless this law opens up the public record for the first time to the citizens and represents a significant advancement in the direction of transparency and good governance.
As far as the law is concerned the government has paved the way for the good governance through effective participation of the private sector in Pakistan. In the second phase, the follow up to ensure effective implementation of the policy and law is also equally important which needs constant attention of the authorities to make these policies as fruitful for the society.
Electronic media is considered as today's most effective and powerful tool for opinion mobilization across the globe. Relatively speaking, electronic media has grown also in Pakistan but only in its volume of transmission and assets but pathetically lacks in spirits. Pakistan Television has grown from one channel to three channels including PTV world transmission which are said to be seen in 52 countries. It is however funny that almost all its transmissions on PTV word are addressed only to the audience which understand the national or local languages which serves no purpose or point to send your message around the world.
If you have to mobilize world opinion in respect of your cultural, social, political or economic strength and to counter the political and cultural invasion of channels hostile against Pakistan at least 50 per cent of the transmissions should be made in English language.
Durrani to perform ground breaking of APP Media City on Saturday
ISLAMABAD, Nov 9 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Muhammad Ali Durrani would be the chief guest at the ground breaking ceremony of APP Media City on Saturday (Nov 10). He would lay the foundation stone of the Media City, at the site adjacent to NUML University in Sector H-9.
Unveiling the salient features, Managing Director APP Rai Riaz Hussain said this project is another landmark achievement of the government.
He said it is another milestone which fulfills the vision of President Pervez Musharraf in making the national media vibrant, skilled, well-equipped and at par with the modern media trends.
“The City is a leap forward towards the professional transformation of the staff of premier news agency of the country and it would help disseminate video news to all the private and public sector television channels,” he said.
He added that a nine-kanal plot adjacent to NUML University in Sector H-9 has been earmarked for the APP Media City, which would have state-of-the-art equipment, broadcasting houses, conference hall, journalists hostel, and other ancillary facilities.
“Keeping in view the modern trends in both electronic and print media after the introduction of private television channels, the APP Media City would also provide training facilities to the print and electronic media professionals”.
He said that the Media City is a part of foresighted leadership of Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, who has already launched Islamabad Media University, National Press Club, Group Insurance provision for APP District Correspondents and new induction in APP.
“The APP has already introduced video news service for the electronic media while it is already disseminating news in Urdu, English, Sindhi, Pushto and Arabic languages”.
Attacks on Media in Pakistan: PFUJ report
Karachi, May 02: At least five journalists, one editor were killed, six were kidnapped and tortured by intelligence agencies, while over 50 journalists of print and electronic media were injured, as new trends of violence against the journalists emerge in Pakistan in 2006, says a report of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), on the International Press Freedom Day.
The latest was Charsadda (NWFP) suicide bomb blast on Pakistan’s Interior minister Aftab Sherpao, in which four journalists were injured.
Beside attack on journalists, even their families were not spared and brothers of two journalists were killed, forcing one of them to leave his home, while several in the tribal areas quit the profession.
Photojournalist Shoaib Khan, who lost his right eye during a suicide bomb blast on April 12, last year, had even lost his speech and could hardly walk. PFUJ through its report appeals to different segment of society to help Khan, for his recovery and return to normal life.
Out of six journalists abducted, one of them, Hayatullah Khan, was killed, while others were released after physical torture.
PFUJ lauded the role of the private news channels, but urged the need for more professionalism and training.
Almost all the private news channels remained under "official scrutiny," received "Press advice," with some of them facing unofficial "suspension," fine or taken off air; TV licenses were blocked for political reasons. The channels that came under attack and faced pressure were Geo, ARY One World, Aaj Sindh TV, KTN, Royal TV and TV Today, while one channel Roshni was closed due to financial reasons.
PFUJ expressed concern over the sudden closure of some TV channels due to financial crisis without paying legal dues to their employees and called for proper working structure of the electronic media. Some channels are not paying salaries promptly.
PFUJ in its report called for "safety measures," "life insurance," "free medical cover," and "safety training," for their staffers particularly for reporters and cameramen, photojournalists.
Reports revealed that for the first time dozens of journalists in the tribal areas of NWFP and Baluchistan had "quit" journalism, mainly because of threats, both from security agencies as well as from the pressure groups. At present there are few journalists left in these areas who work as stringers for certain international media.
Last year, at least five journalists, one editor were killed; over 50 media-men were injured in attacks on media men, mainly by the police and law enforcement agencies.
The most dangerous trend noticed last year was the kidnapping of journalists allegedly by the intelligence agencies, with the abduction and killing of tribal area journalist Hayatullah Khan being among the worst.
The report demanded of the government to release the inquiry report of slain tribal area journalist Hayatullah Khan, conducted by a Peshawar High Court Judge, which has now been put on the back burner.
PFUJ urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, to disclose the findings of the report as it must have been submitted to him as well.
Cameraman Munir Sangi, of Sindhi language private TV channel, the Kawaish Television Network, KTN (details and date of violence incidents given below), was shot dead while filming the tribal feud in Larkana district. The influential tribe Unar, now reported to be using pressure to "silence," his brother Hadi Sangi.
PFUJ suspects the role of a provincial Sindh minister in protecting the killers of cameraman of the KTN, Munir Sangi, and using police pressure on his brother Hadi Sangi. A false case has been registered against Hadi to force him to settle Munir’s case in a "jirga."
The year 2006, also saw new dimensions in violence against journalists. In the past, just the journalists and newspaper offices were attacked, but last year an even more bizarre element crept into the sordid episode, the journalists’ families having to face the spectre of loss of life or danger to personal safety.
Brothers of slain journalists Hayatullah Khan and Dilawar Wazir were also killed. The BBC’s correspondent, Wazir, had moved from Wana to Dera Ismail Khan, because of threats and attack on his family and his residence.
Pakistan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Wazirstan, and nearby areas remained the most dangerous place for reporting. Similarly, reporting also become difficult in the interior of Sindh, and in areas like Dera Bugti in Baluchistan, where Journalists come under pressure or threat from local tribesmen and police.
Never in the past has the electronic media come under so much attack as over the last 12 months with violent attacks on reporters and cameramen working for leading news channels like Geo ARYOne, Aaj, KTN, Sindh TV.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) used the law against some of these channels either directly or through cable operators.
The report said the government had also failed to resolve the murder cases of two senior journalists Mohammad Ismail and Maqbool Sial. There were also two other incidents in which a reporter of a Sindhi daily Ibrat was killed and in another incident editor of local Urdu daily of Sukkur "Nijat," Makhdoom Rafiq were killed this year. The motives behind the murder continue to be a mystery
PFUJ is deeply concerned over the highly malevolent and intolerant stance of the authorities whereby even the next-of-kin of "errant" journalists are being ruthlessly eliminated. Taimur Khan, brother of BBC correspondent, Dilawar Khan, was killed while child Bashir Khan, younger brother of Hayatullah Khan, was also killed.
PFUJ has withheld the findings of the ordeal of the abducted journalists for safety and security of their colleagues.
In view of the rising incidents of violence against the journalists, an International Mission visited Pakistan at the invitation of PFUJ, which included the President of the International Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) Christopher Warren and the President of National Union of Journalists, (NUJ), UK, Chris Morley, and met the victims, government officials, rights group in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar.
The Mission in its report released early this month called for immediate local and International action to address the crisis facing the Pakistani media community. Action needed in pursuing the journalists’ killers, immediate implementation of the 7th Wage Award, labour law reforms, and the development of a culture of safety and security of journalists, particularly in the tribal areas.
Journalism in Pakistan
By: ABID ULLAH JAN Published: The Frontier Post, April 6, 1999
Imagine being expected by the government to paint a colorful rainbow of its "democratic progress" when you have no brushes and only two pots of paint. Welcome to journalist's world in Pakistan. You either find yourself finger-painting messy and inaccurate piece of work to please the government or try to understand the root causes of chaos and anarchy and present workable solutions to the never-ending problems at hand and suddenly end up in prison on cooked up charges.
The self-appointed President of Pakistan publicly threatened two senior Pakistani journalists, now living in the US, in front of several hundred Pakistani expatriates at a dinner speech in New York on Sept 13, 2002. Earlier other journalists were threatened and even thrown out of the President's public meetings - particularly during his campaign for the sham referendum.
Most of these events pass by without anyone taking note of them because every such incident and the journalist involved happens to be just another victim of the ongoing spate of democratically embarrassing onslaught against the press in Pakistan. It suggests that something more disheartening is at work than an epidemic of insecure leaders tightening the screws on journalists for exhibiting "too much freedom." Prison now seems to be the only destination of the journalists who failed to learn the way most of our public -- which has been living under one or another form of dictatorial regime for decades -- think.
The Press in Pakistan is now systematically being targeted and the government is paranoid of those journalists who present the "wrong" side of what appears to be progressive and people friendly policies of a "democratic" government. Having tamed the parliament, presidency, military and judiciary, no one knows whether the Prime Minister has taken on media critics on his own democratic instincts, or the crusade is being carried out on the advice of those in Washington who have closed minds of their own public to seek out the truth and protect convictions, interests and interpretations which are especially dear to majority of the American?
Such attacks on journalists are not limited to the military dictatorship alone. Rehamt Shah Afridi is till date paying the price of locking horns with Nawaz Sharif and the US agencies. According to Mir Shakilur Rehman, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Jang Group of Publications, he was directed by two senior officials close to Prime Minister Sharif to dismiss 16 journalists on his rolls. Mr. Rehman was told that "nothing adverse should be written concerning their (the Sharif's) loans, business, personal matters etc," Apart from the raids on The News offices during Nawaz sharif government in October 1998, plainclothes officials landed up at the office of the Karachi-based monthly Newsline demanding the home phone numbers and addresses of its correspondents.
The husband-wife couple, who run the weekly The Friday Times, Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin, have for long been complaining about their phone being tapped and other harassment. According to Mohsin when they "go to Islamabad, senior government officials jokingly quote bits of [their] conversations" to them. Still they are lucky to have not been framed like Rahmat Shah Afridi of the Frontier Post -- victim of a well-calculated conspiracy that can be professionally hatched against any journalist with as much perfection and ease as we have witnessed in the case of Rahmat Shah Afridi. And no victim would ever be able to protect himself or prove his innocence in this lawless land.
I have repeatedly pointed out that Pakistan is an Egypt in making. General Musharraf has sealed that destiny for Pakistan. A Scottish Journalist working for the English paper The Cairo Times recently discovered "we do [our work] with a hand tied behind our back," and if you become a victim "you are guilty until proven innocent." Contrary to the general belief that the more information you have, the better equipped you will be, but in Egypt, according to Miriam Mesbah, a staff writer for the Egypt Today magazine, "the attitude is that the more information you have, the greater threat you pose" and the quick victim you become. Imagine contributing a weekly column or a report each day knowing that a job well done could end your life or your freedom in prison.
The campaign of harassing the press in Pakistan is being carried out at a time, when unprecedented number of Pakistanis are questioning the "official stories" on mainline news media and the government which they serve. PTV and Radio Pakistan have joined the government as one of the least trusted institutions in the country. Their emphasis is neither on informing or educating the viewers and listeners regarding the deeply significant events which are now shaping the immediate future, nor the focus is on exposing the corruption and mismanagement; rather the stress is on producing anesthetising material to cover up incompetence and sinister designs of a sitting government.
Print media is the only source that is not as much under the civilian dictators' control as the electronic media is. The idea of taming the press is part of the guidance our ruling party leaders are getting from their Masters in Washington. Each attempt to muzzle the press has a piece of the big puzzle, and we do not even know our left foot from our tight when it comes to understanding what's going on. Just like the news and views on Radio and TV, the government expects the press to craft and design deceit, distortion and deception in its favour.
Without pondering the impending consequences of the American system of indoctrination through media, our journalists too are expected to follow the suit with political bias and fluff; so that readers and listeners in Pakistan lose their interest in substance and perceive news and analysis as mere entertainment like the Americans and the government continue its perpetual rule like Hosni Mubarak. Such continuation of power is impossible if the journalists have better data on which to base their suggestions and recommendation, and those on the receiving end are much better informed about what those who rule are doing.
Mostly the dictators believe that the insidious invasion of the truth here and there would unleash resentment rather than satisfaction and any attempt on part of the journalists to inform the public is seen to be unleashing a sense of peril than power. A democratic regime, claimed to be founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decision in ignorance or reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions created by the controlled press. And journalist would certainly not like to betray their duty by becoming part of a hypocritical game played out by the government for its survival.
Apart from the cooked up case against Rahmat Shah Afridi, a cold-headed analysis reveals that the press is not all that innocent either. Although in a democracy the law guarantees freedom of expression to its citizens; it guarantees neither infallibility, nor talent, nor competence, nor probity, nor intelligence, nor the verification of facts -- all of which are supposed to be provided by or are the responsibility of journalists, not of legislators. But when a journalist is criticised because he is inaccurate or dishonest, the profession as a whole lets out a howl, pretending to believe that the very principle of free expression is under attack and that a new attempt is being made to muzzle the press. The press cannot defend itself with the argument that it was merely fulfilling the "task of informing." It would be just like a restaurant owner who, after serving spoiled food, fend off criticism by exclaiming: "Please, let me fulfill my mission as a nourisher, that sacred duty! Or are you in favour of starvation?"
Many of our journalist friends have dropped the cloak of impartiality and as a result all of us are expected to do so. They can see Nawaz Sharif to be an all time ruler but they have serious objection to Benazir's lifetime chairpersonship, or the vice versa. A sincere journalist needs not to be partial and affiliated to a single party or leader irrespective of his undemocratic policies and anti-people deeds. Most of those who launch newspapers or other means of communication do so to impose a point of view and not to seek the truth. It is simply that when one wants to impose a certain point of view, it is better to seem to be seeking the truth. Just as, among millions of books that are published, only a tiny proportion are devoted to literature in the highest, artistic sense of the word, or to the communication of knowledge, so only a minority of press and communications enterprises are founded and managed with the primary aim of informing.
Newspapers geared to this particular objective occupy a tiny niche in the gigantic mass of purely commercial or partisan press. The difference between speaking rationally and talking nonsense is very clear. Similarly, printing false information and holding a paper from printing information are also very obvious acts. For a democratic government it is better to accept the inconveniences than to try to remedy the pro-opposition press related problems by force or by legislation; for public wisdom, fruits of experience of freedom and the habit of confronting different theses, would take care of discrediting defamers and factious elements.
Furthermore, another ritual piece of nonsense consists of defining the press as a "counterpower." It is true that the role of the press is to tell the truth and that the government in power does not much like the truth when it is unfavourable. But it is also true that the truth is not always unfavourable if spoken through an impartial mouth. Thus the press has no business claiming to be a counter power by virtue of a selective automatism and in ever circumstance. Besides, the very notion is absurd, for if things really happened in this way, and if the government in power invariably deserved to be opposed, it would be sufficient reason to despair of democracy, for it would mean that a democratically elected government is always mistaken -- at least in Pakistan -- and therefore that the people electing it are afflicted with a congenital, incurable idiocy.
Undoubtedly, some of the partisan journalists are indulged in committing the pernicious ill of disguising opinion as information, but the government need not to subject the whole press to collective punishment because its agenda of not letting an average Pakistani understand the facts behind all that glitters is being undermined. It seems to be a bit early, but when Washington and Islamabad have all the pieces in place, when they have all the power that they need to effect our national agenda, then we will find out the government's motive of going after the press, like the people of Egypt, when it's too late. Right from robbing the public of their foreign currency to the establishment of anti-terrorism and military courts and to the harassment of the press, every step is in the direction of establishing a one man's "democratic" rule in Pakistan. It has been said, "For a nation's monetary system to be artificial, its system of justice must also be artificial." Saying, if the nation's monetary and judicial systems are artificial, the free and independent press must necessarily be spurious as well, could complete the statement for Pakistan.
Cyber Journalism in Pakistan
By Muhammad Luqman Sheikh
DESPITE taking roots in a number of countries of the world including neighboring India, Internet Journalism is a new term for most Pakistanis, even for the majority of those half a million who use the magic tool of internet.
With very few web-based newspapers, news portals and news agencies, Pakistan has yet to take benefit from the information explosion and the advent of Cyber journalism in the world.
Cyber journalism, internet journalism, online journalism, dot journalism or E-journalism, what ever name you give to this new form of news collection and dissemination, is still something alien to most Pakistanis as a majority can’t even read or write English, the language, considered to be the passport for the information super highway.
This problem can be overcome by developing Urdu software’s, which may lead to increase in the computer usage and the Internet subscription in the country.
As different modern dictionaries suggest, online journalism means the writing of stories specifically for the Web instead of newspaper, radio, television or magazine. It can include the use of text, photos, graphics, hypertext, audio and video to tell stories.
However, non-interactive internet editions of the traditional print newspapers are also considered part of online E-journalism.
The major benefits of the online journalism as compared to the traditional newspapers are-interactivity, frequent updating of the news stories with backgrounders and the use of multi-media to make the news items more comprehensive.
One can find the video, audio and graphic contents on the internet based newspaper or website to understand the issue in a comprehensive manner.
In Pakistan’s case, barring some news portals and websites, most of the news sites available in cyber space are static. It is like monologue, providing no instant opportunity to the reader to respond to some story or matter.
Newspapers like 'The Nation' have tried to engage the readers through inviting their votes for a particular issue of international or domestic significance. Otherwise, the newspapers or portals don’t provide much to engage internet users especially the youth.
Similarly, the online journalism has yet to attain the status of a serious form of medium. It can be done by coming up with exclusive stories and rare information like Tehleka.com, website in India did some times ago. The internet edition of Al-Jazeera TV, BBC and CNN receive a big number of hits (readers/visitors) daily due to newsworthy content.
Pakistani news portals and websites can also win the confidence of readers by posting exclusive stories instead of splashing lifted material from other websites or print media.
Making online journalism popular in Pakistan has also become an uphill task due to the fact that more than 60% of country’s netizens are making un-productive use of the internet by visiting only entertainment especially the porno sites.
Last year, government blocked hundreds of such sites. But it is not humanly possible to block millions of sites containing such material. The online websites and portals can attract internet users only by putting interesting and valuable material instead of flooding their sites with blogs and personal views.
Another reason for less popularity of online journalism is low rate of computer literacy and an equally dismal tele-density in the country. ISPs started to provide services in Pakistan in the year 1996. Today, the ISP market in Pakistan is booming, and new ISPs are being set up at a regular interval. About 150 ISPs are presently working in the country.
However, the number of internet users and the resultant visitors to the web-based newspapers and portals can increase only after the increase in the number of telephones.
As far as computer illiteracy is concerned, people are not familiar with the use of computers. Now there is increasing trend to be equipped with the computer knowledge.
No doubt, the online or E-journalism, which took birth about a decade back, took the information world with a storm, yet it has also led to some ethical problems.
The breaking news about a scandal in India by Tehleka.com and the showing of execution of hostages in Iraq by the resistance groups have raised a number of questions about how to regulate this emerging form of media. So it is necessary to come up with the code of ethics for the internet journalism before it is too late.
Similarly, the showing of execution of hostages does promote the cause of Iraqis. Yet it also leads to panic and harassment among the general public especially among those related to the victims.
So there is need of striking a balance between the right to expression and the ethical values of the society while giving news items on the websites.
In the end, I suggest that the government and the national press should take active steps for the promotion of online E-journalism as it is our future. I believe that the traditional newspapers will stay, yet it is necessary to take benefit from new forms of media. It becomes more necessary at times when media can make or break a nation.●
The writer is a noted journalist associated with APP as Senior Reporter, holds M.Sc degree in International Relations and Certificate in Medical Transcription. His fields of interest are Information Technology, Economy and Agriculture.
E-Journalism: A Bold Set-off
By the Editor
GETTING its marvellous and spectacular title indexed — as the pioneer or a splendid tarmac for a smooth-silky take-off towards a glorious and thriving future for the E-Journalism in Pakistan, a grand and grandiose podium, the Press Institute of Pakistan [PIP] managed a cherished Seminar in the metropolis of the Punjab, Lahore — at the last weekend — which can pragmatically be phrased — as a bold set-off vis-à-vis a most vital require and aspire of the 21st century epoch, which has dawned — amid the lap of a sweet-scented and innovative Millennium — all around the earth Planet.
Despite lack of interest or knowledge — by the men who matter in the corridors of power — about the lofty impact of a potent gadget, the Internet for quick dissemination of news and views from the soils of Pakistan to thwart the hideous propaganda crusade, unleashed by the foes of this revered realm, the convening of this Seminar — can by all perceptions be phrased as a solicitous vision of a soul — who can purely be a logical and erudite — alone. .
With a archetypal celebrity — the logician and insightful spirit — who was once PTV’s Anwar Behzad and later an Anchor alike Tim Sebastian of the BBC, the sober but smiling — Absar Abdul Ali, now the Director of the PIP as a host amid the zestful partaking as chief guest by the fêted and venerated emblem in the meadow of journalism, Arif Nizami, the President of All Pakistan Newspapers Society [APNS] who is the Editor of Pakistan’s illustrious dailies ‘The Nation’ in English and ‘Nawa-e-Waqt’ in Urdu, shall go a long way to accomplish the truthful essence of the deliberations — which hallmarked the historic event, chaired by Punjab’s Minister for Information Technology, Abdul Aleem Khan.
By now, there was an elfin endorsement of this most significant medium within Pakistan, despite its’ big and strong global acknowledgement by diverse segments of the peoples — with overseas Pakistanis atop, the world-over. We feel delighted by the feature the PIP, picked-up this theme — for the first time — obviously to draw focus on the E-journalism, which, in other words is phrased as online or Internet newspaper journalism in the country.
Amid a prolonged and considerate brainstorming session, illustrious connoisseurs, associated with the field gave remarkable and in-depth presentations via the use of laptops to elucidate their observations to bring to light the hefty impact of the subject.
Yet another emphasis on the occasion was the wishy-washy approach and apathy of those connected with the ministries of Information and Broadcasting plus IT in Pakistan vis-à-vis the E-newspapers which, paradoxically could not seek any patronage from these sets-up and are being published — with regularity — in spite of limited pecuniary resources at their disposal.
One shall have to admit the veracity that all the newspapers and periodicals, being published on the Web are projecting the positive image of Pakistan on global-level — with utmost sincerity — by raying truthful and upbeat impact with splendid feed-back — thus supplementing the efforts of the national dailies, which, too are uploading their contents on the websites with their own added expenses, swelling with the advent of every sunup.
At the Seminar, almost all the speakers stressed the need for instant official recognition of the E-newspapers, explicitly with the backing of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society [APNS] by indexing all such bona fide papers and periodicals, operating on professional lines, as its’ [APNS] formal members so as to ensure smooth silky sailing of the most modern medium of the fresh era, as E-Journalism in Pakistan is going to boom and prosper even against the existing heavy odds. Virtually, all the basic facets of the E-journalism were thrashed out by the orators threadbare highlighting its superior subtext.
We would like to point-out that roving through diverse scenarios — during the past over several months and years — the E-Newspaper in Pakistan are glued with a singular zeal n’ zest to disseminate news n’ views in a ceaseless free, fair n’ frank style, which has been an idiosyncratic feature and facade of zestful teams — engaged in the silhouette of a momentous limb of the bona fide powerful medium to clutch authentic information on day-to-day episodes around the globe via their complete and compact dailies, by means of the fascinating devise — the desktop.
As far E-Newspapers, we can simply assure that realistic objectives of every-one, engaged in this gigantic task shall remain intact — to counter every onslaught from any dimension — as has been spitefully and callously done by a sadistic set of fussy n’ scandalous internet machinists of India via a wicked stab to sliver — some E-News Dailies with ‘Pakistan Times’ — atop.
Such a noxious n’ toxic shot has always been frustrated in a vibrant style. We can pragmatically reassure the people-in-power with brisk and avid perceptions — alike our other colleagues in this arena, 'Pakistan Times' is geared-up to try and change people’s attitudes — to make them love each other still more and reflect like neighbours in the global village — rather than the antagonists. Yet we will continue to expose and unfurl every tyrannical outlook — wherever it exists with India atop — to save and shield the humankind from every perilous course.
With this candid mindset, we will continue to project the ill-fated magnitude of inhuman actions like brutalities and atrocities — wherever such a course persists — with an exceptional spotlight on the plight of innocent Kashmiris in Indian-held part of the charismatic Himalayan State to get their manacles slashed by the intruders — who are equipped with lethal arsenal to quell their birth right of self-determination, guaranteed to the bravo Kashmiris with one-voice — more than a dozen time even by the United Nations through its resolutions — which are as clear as crystal.
We will support every de facto freedom struggle — like the one initiated by the people of Palestine--so as to ensure that every-one in this egalitarian age enjoys fruits of full freedom — with equilibrium — as its podium.
Likewise, we will continue with the only benchmark — with a determined ecstasy to focus on the stuffing of the news n' views with a curious approach to refurbish stories as event-oriented instead of going with gusto to transmit the gist as a pictogram of personality-oriented tête-à-tête. It is an established fact that it is man-behind-the-gun — not the gun that sets free a potent impact. That too — in a way a set of erudite does — and — would fetch fixed repute for every medium — in whatever mode it operates.
As a matter of fact, right from the very beginning, our aim has been atypical and very simple: ‘to do news like the world has never done’ — just that. We are determined to maintain our mission and assignment — with the same aromatic savor — at all costs.
Simultaneously, we wish to see the swift expansion of the E-Journalism — with an innovative loom everywhere — more exclusively in the realms — where the Internet apparatus is either being misconstrued or such environs are faced with paucity of literacy rate.
We will prove with an authentic method to make such souls realize that it [Internet] is not a mere idol for bilateral or multilateral ‘Chat’ on pointless topics and that too for an ephemeral and fleeting delight — but, with realism that this [Internet] is the most authoritative and booming — and shall stay so, as an everlasting spring of information and education — with entertainment as its’ last entity.
Though most of the countries — in the comity of nations — are making best use of this dominant appliance — the Internet with captivating and alluring chic — scores of sets-up still live-on both in public as well as private sector — which are resorting to take the Internet in a juvenile, immature, embryonic, trivial, trifling n’ puerile way — either due to lack of awareness about its significance or with as a premeditated mindset.
To quote a perceptible instance is — Pakistan’s set-up, known as the EGD [E-Government Directorate], which is an organ of the Ministry of Information Technology — essentially to depict and illustrate a magnificent affluent Pakistan — with full info about the great, attractive, charming and extraordinary realm, yet the website — enunciated by it [EGD] with a hefty sum of the national exchequer — are filled with elfin, worthless and hollow contents — a facet — totally repugnant to real objectives.
Such officious sites are ought to edify and enlighten the world — about Pakistan’s fabulous features. Yet things are going other-way round. Not only that it take a cumbersome time to get a site open — some of the links’ — inserted and injected in it — portray as E-Gov unit is an icon of the Opposition parties in place of its real title-holder — the Government.
One fails to understand as to how such an erratic and arctic posture can soundly counteract the hideous propaganda crusade, unleashed worldwide by the adversaries of Pakistan — with India on the top of the catalogue?
Yet the E-Newspapers with the print and electronic mediums are resolute to do every-thing to espouse the supreme national interests of the gorgeous soils of Pakistan — and that too, without any explicit interest. The only curiosity — with us is to signify the consecrated Pakistan — in the same charming mode — as it in actuality merits.
We feel delighted to convey that ‘Pakistan Times’ is the first independent daily E-newspaper, bequeathed with the universally-accepted adornment of International Standard Serial Number [ISSN] in Pakistan. As a modest but zestful projector of the nation’s stylish image with focus on events in the most hazardous region of South Asia — due to India’s antagonistic attitude — we contemplate to elicit yet another daily — which is to be in Urdu language, ‘Daur-e-Jadeed’.
We hope this paper, too shall come into view on your desktop — shortly — for the benefit of our brethren, having abode overseas. The E-Newspaper in Urdu shall also be equipped with latest and updated news n’ views — from all-over the globe — much before the arrival of daylight — on daily basis.
While opting to go for E-newspapers, we had overtly pledged that: “We’re gonna go on the global web today, and we’re gonna stay on until the end of the world. When that time comes, we’ll cover it, say just five sacred n' sanctified words: ‘Nearer My God to Thee,’ and sign off.”
At the same time, we would like to ring a bell that despite swelling emergence or one may phrase it as the birth of novel websites — on global level — the plight of the Internet apparatus as a source of information and education remains as awful as a cataclysm and catastrophe of colossal magnitude.
Such a poignant milieu persists most exclusively in a large number of the developing world — explicitly known as the third world. If described — other-way round — a world, which lacks requisite resources and by and large is reliant on the aliens — called the ‘civilized ones.’ Yet, ironically, with a blissful aspire to compete on worldwide level, is engaged in spendthrift operating expenses — by one schema and sketch or the other.
Such a course, in a way, is applied either in the name of ‘spreading information or education.’ Information to seek details of the episodes, surfacing on the Atlas with the ramble of every micro-second on the clock — and ‘modern education’ for the youth — yet, paradoxically with 'a precise aim or objective'.
This charm and glamour for the hottest widget has — by now — remained a hallucination or just a fantasy. Going by the charismatic vision of its’ [Internet] architect, it has paved flourishing vistas for a specific set of society via the jovial and mirthful puff up of Internet Cafes — even in tiny villages and that too, with-out any lawful monitoring.
What for? It needs no elucidation — as such spots remain open even beyond mid-nights, of-course filled with people of all ages — having a clear-cut craze and obsession — with a magic for miscellaneous '...Woods’ plus ‘hideous Chat’ [invariably to befool or to make each-other, a comic] on the top of the catalog — via such a style of flimsy contact.
A very small size of the people makes an apt or apposite use of this device — the Internet to have a glance on world affairs, stamped by happenings and occurrences, faced with titanic frequency. Such an inclination portrays nothing except frustration on the part of a lot of people — explicitly the youth, the new or next generation — our future. It seems that juveniles are being deliberately tuned into this type of malevolence, a delinquent pursuit — ‘just to keep them busy.’ Can’t we avert such a lust — by giving a reverential status to the newspapers on the web with an official back-up to acquaint and familiarize the ‘Teens’ with the significance of news and views — backed by education?
As far the patrons and promoters of the Internet, they too seem making ‘best use’ of it — yet with a singular style. These spirits with ‘futuristic exposures’ do go out of the way to plead their ‘perceptions’ — but practically do nothing — at-all. Each one of them — in the developing States — poses like Bill-Gates — sans the vision of the author of marvellous Windows.
Such ‘intellectuals’ are least bothered about the real essence of this machine — which takes ones’ perception from one realm to the other — in a jiffy, a spur of moment with an instant feedback, manually or via auto-responders. Not to talk of education alone, such ‘models of narcissism’ seem ignorant of the fact that in the modern-age, Internet is an excellent source to take a country’s economy to zeniths of awe-inspiring scale by establishing a direct rapport with the affluent world.
Simultaneously, the peoples — having abode anywhere on this sphere — can keep themselves au fait on every aspect via E-newspapers to draw a mutual consensus on diverse topics — to save the world from all types of loathes by turning such a trend into likings and adore for each-other — to avert all sorts of scuffles and skirmishes.
A few spirited souls do make such an attempt — with audacity — yet they are made vanished — overtly to shield some outlast and orthodox interests — which are solely and basically dependent on info gathering by clicking diverse news-originating or news-disseminating sites — even with a day-to-day dossier, the electronic mail — prevalently known as E-mail.
Bizarrely, all such endeavors [to operate an E-daily to take every facet of a country to each and every nook and cranny of the world] eventually, get placed into a state of ache and they are left with no option but to put in abeyance their gargantuan task — with a feeble, frail and fragile ray of hope for a sanguine recognition by the media-managers of such lands — if and when they get their websites refurbished with a new look.
The Information Sets-up, paradoxically are still oblivious of the strapping points of this mode of news and views dissemination. And instead are affixed with an outmoded, obsolete and conformist, virtually with a passé out-look.
Such limbs of the government(s), which in fact, are dashing neurotically only with a bureaucratic mind-set are least uptight about the crucial and critical requires of the dawn of the new-fangled times, which has already surfaced in the lap of the fresh Millennium — filled with a zest for glancing ‘maximum information in minimum time’ plus sophistication, erudition, modishness and — above-all with whim and vogue or novelties and innovations — with enormous challenges, camouflaging the new epoch.
Not to talk of the lofty significance of a web or in other words an electronic newspaper, majority of such species — the ‘emblems’ of Info — are ironically alien rather Martian about the role of the classy gadget — the Internet.
Yet despite such a reckless tendency, most of such media-managers are all the time excited to incur profligate expenses to seek lavish laptops — not from their own pouch but with the expenses, drawn from the national exchequer — @ extravagant cost. Side-by-side this course, generous and munificent incentives are — very often — aired depicting ‘a lot of incentives for the promotion of information technology’, the heavier cost of which is being borne by knocking the public funds.
Even benevolent and benign waiver is granted on account of essential levies to every-one engaged in this task irrespective of evaluation whether one deserves it to apply an expertise to ‘promote it in a righteous way or is just a pseudo ‘intellect’ to grip some ‘specific goals, masquerading — nothing but to satisfy their personal ends.
The rapid elocution and enunciation, virtually a swelling growth of official websites by a pet set of ‘experts’ are invariably installed and launched with a fabulous fanfare — in an extravaganza fashion — sketching the ‘innovations’ as a “dazzling triumph” of the specific sets-up.
Of-course, its’ a feisty and spirited outlook, with a nice motif to get one-self placed as equal with the civilized nations — and that too, in the first row. The solo objective of such sites is ought to introduce a limb of a realm to the rest of the world — with all-inclusive info, raying with applause and joie de vivre, every splendid facet of a defined country — to win eulogize and ovation from all-over.
Such websites are in fact, a prelude and preamble of an area [in essence to attract fellow-beings dwelling beyond oceanic] the periodic appraisal of which is very much obligatory to review the number of the sites’ visitors, which is dexterously evaded and eschewed — to keep the realities oblique.
Even though this mode of a straight communication with the rest of the world can be applied as authoritative mean for propaganda or psychological warfare [the present day need] — a bulk majority appears, least uptight or eager to do so. And on the other hand, those who wish to get into this taxing and grueling assignment — voluntarily are put to rest, or one may term it ‘to sleep and siesta’ — for a raison d'être, best identified to the ‘stalwarts’.
Sardonically, instead of extending an encouragement — at least via a word of gratitude and Accreditation — almost all such bold and brisk colleagues of a media crusade are put to stop. With such a milieu, what is the logic behind the prop up of the IT — which is no-doubt a pricey affair. A sort of malevolence both by public and private sector towards the [E] or web news and views medium is yet another apathetic aspect.
Well-acquainted with the veracity [the gigantic importance of the web], a hefty sum is being spent by almost all the news organizations for operating their websites to publicize their day-to-day stuff much before their age-old and routine style of circulating their ‘brain-waves’, the leaning of the bosses of advertisements remain fixated only on such news sources — with an atypical patronage.
As a result, even the globally-acknowledged complete daily web newspapers, beaming to the orb a highly fascinating image of the lovely homeland (s) and that too — free of cost — and in fact altruistically — are swiftly vanishing like a sapling which remains unattended from the day-one of its’ plantation.
Even if, via a stroke of ‘luck’ an Ad [advertisement] in the silhouette of a microscopic or diminutive Ad banner is ‘bestowed’ on some news-site, its’ legitimate and bona fide right to entrée to aver for an elfin remuneration, turns nothing beyond a stupor or at the best a dream, which never gets translated into a realism — and eventually the money? Its’ gulped by sets of typical furtive characters, steering such affairs with glamorous slots!
Unfortunately and fatefully, such a dilemma persists unabated only in the developing countries — of-course Pakistan, as one of such territories or terrains. With such an environ, it seems that the media mangers are bent upon interpreting the Internet or the web as a device just for reaching voluminous size of ‘leisure and pleasure’ [explicitly for the young-ones] — in place of acknowledging the authenticity that this apparatus [the Internet] is much stronger, valuably and constructive, if applied for seeking information and education — and that too at-once.
Pragmatically, the axiom; ‘pen is more powerful than a sword’ was overtly phrased for this gizmo alone. One can’t counter the actuality that this — the Internet — is a double-edge sword, which is both toxic as well as a forceful and effective shield to protect ones’ outlook from all types of vile and evils — if applied with a positive frame of mind.
Needless to quote herein that every civilized society is making best use of this machine, which has virtually turned the endless world into a global village. Even then a bigoted and prejudiced attitude and approach vis-à-vis the web newspaper is nothing beyond an obnoxious and illogical loom — rather a tragedy. This overtly manifests the echelon of ‘love n’ esteem’ for IT or magnifying the size of literacy — by those, airing blissful and flashy claims about the future of modern education — day-in and day-out. Isn’t it so?
Any way, despite this unpleasant milieu [of rarity and paucity of resources to keep-up or to live-on] plus lack of a down-to-earth recognition of the web [E] media, the worth of which shall have to be admitted and appeased by the egotistical clichés one-day, [not very far-off], we look forward for every-ones’ out-of-the-way, if candidly articulated as, hands-in-hands cooperation — in a glamorous style to get translated our zestful and zealous dream into a pragmatic reality.
Our visualization is, thus focused on a solitary aspire; to have a gaze at the amelioration of the lot of the humankind with affluence and equilibrium as its hallmark. The vision to abridge diverse civilizations onto this planet — for the sake of harmony and coordination among all — is not a complex task, if the web is engaged and employed [as we contemplate] — with buoyancy, fortitude and finest strength of mind.
We are, simultaneously, grateful to each and every patron, with — PIP--atop and ally for the fabulous and marvelous support, extended to E-Journalism to do its job — which is still problematic and complex — yet we envision to overcome it by reaching to every exquisite soul and set-up, like the — APNS and CPNE — as the APNS chief [Mr. Arif Nizami] seemed caring and agreeable to help give impetus to the [E] or Internet-Journalism in Pakistan in his heart-warming and inspiring remarks at the first-ever Seminar.
We are optimistic that this lurid, upright and grandiose back-up by our adherents shall persist — even in all times ahead. We wish the PIP — all the best with all-inclusive prayers for its splendid success in it’s’ objectives — in each and every venture it sets off in times ahead.
Finally, we hope that the event of August-21, in the 21st century shall not prove to be a solitary-one on the momentous topic and would ensure a meaningful and dazzling epoch for the E-Journalism in Pakistan. As a pragmatist, we feel sanguine that a life-sized workshop — spanning over a period of at least one-week — shall be set-in-motion by PIP boss, Mr. Absar Abdul Ali as swiftly — as possible, of-course with a vow to unfold a drive — with frequent events — to translate a virtuous dream into a reality.
The dream, to make realize — all those seated at the helms of affairs, exclusively in the comfy and cozy space in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting — that E-Newspapers do have a bona fide right — to seek recognition like the other branches of media — to make best use of the E-Newspapers and that too — in the best interest of our beloved homeland — Pakistan, the horizons of which are confronted with shades of perils — from within as well as from its’ fixated foes — abroad.
Since its’ an era of media-war — rather than conventional scuffles, it is an apt time to act to foil the designs of the nasty pictogram, wherever such evil icons dwell — by making best use of the print, electronic and E-Newspapers — to the optimal point.
While expressing our inmost gratitude to each and every-one conversant figure who joined the PIP event with ardent and zealous aspires — equipped with luminous skills — to give a boost to the E-Journalism in Pakistan. We owe hefty thankfulness to the great and gallant visionary of the bravura and virtuoso trends of sovereign journalism in Pakistan, Mr. Majeed Nizami, the Edior-in-Chief of ‘The Nation’ who, of-course is a herald of free, fair and frank values, norms and ethics of this noble vocation — the Journalism.
No-doubt, he has upheld the unique visualization of his brother, late Hameed Nizami (RA) with an identical zest, the distinguished and daring soul have had vis-à-vis the journalistic doctrine. Not simply that, Mr. Majeed Nizami has taken ‘The Nation’ and ‘Nawa-e-Waqt’ to the zeniths of fantastic altitudes. That is why — every-one — who once gazes at the publications of the ‘Nawa-e-Waqt’ Group stays affixed — without any fluctuations in any environ or in any style.
Majority of the readers considers — all these publications as inspiring and melodious — and as a role-model in projecting the Ideology of Pakistan as well as for taking the dilemmas of the deprived masses onto the desks of all those who are supposed to be the assiduous figures — sitting at the top of the Hills, blessed with full authority for taking care of the ‘Have-nots’, side-by-side the ‘Affluent-ones’ — at-once.
Mr. Majeed Nizami has set off yet another genial — yet challenging task by articulating an Institution — the PIP — as its’ originator and architect for the eventual good of the youth, having leaning towards journalism in the country, Its’ alike a real and rational service — only a sound, cogent and coherent clairvoyant with vast backdrop can think-of.
We thank you, Mr. Nizami for providing a Think-Tank, overtly in line with the international standards, to the budding minds — that are to steer and escort — the upright profession of journalism — in all shapes, the print, electronic and E-medium — for all times to come. With the holding of the Seminar on E-Journalism, we feel self-assured that PIP’s back-up to this mode of news and views circulation shall get still more momentum under the aegis of the Institute — expectantly with its' chief's magnified personal support and guidance — intact.
Simultaneously, we wish to call upon global organizations, dealing with the media affairs — with the United Nations — atop to get involved in the enthusiastic mission of the Press Institute of Pakistan [PIP] — with optimal fiscal assistance [even if Mr. Majeed Nizami and Mr. Arif Nizami wouldn’t go for such a course] — to make this organization [PIP] still more strong to grip its plans for the promotion of journalism in this part of the globe — as a glorious future of this planet rests with this vocation — in multiple ways.
This Institute [PIP] — which, by its’ own impressive and judicious point of view, has already initiated a vital subject [the prospects and potentials of E-Journalism in Pakistan] — for the ultimate benefit of the generations to come — perceptibly with a swear to stay-intact till all the goals of the significant topic — are achieved, in full.
We wish you all the best — the PIP chief, Mr. Majeed Nizami, the APNS President, Mr. Arif Nizami, the Director, Mr. Absar Abdul Ali and, in fact every-one associated with PIP in accomplishing all the treasured and paramount targets — you have envisioned for enunciation of a matchless journalistic styles in Pakistan — as excellent as anywhere around the Orb.●
When teachers of journalism oppose press freedom
Journalism in Pakistan is more free than its teachers think it should be. Most people focus on the ill that free journalism does than the good that happens because of its freedom. The disadvantages of free journalism are discussed all over the world, but the final verdict remains in favour of freedom. Society is frequently hurt by journalists who exploit information, but it tolerates this injury because there is so much else that it needs 'revealed' about the functioning of the state. In Pakistan, however, those who teach journalism think that free press violates too many national norms to be tolerated. There is a Code of Ethics agreed in the 1970s by the editors which is hardly ever adhered to in the profession, but the teachers of journalism continue to pay allegiance to it.
The myth of the noble profession
Journalism is a much favoured subject in the Central Superior Service (CSS) examination which allows entry of young men and women into the federal services. If one reads the questions set in Journalism papers every year, one comes across a view of the press that is completely divorced from professional realities in the 1990s. The examiner upholds the general myth about Journalism being a noble profession which can only be practised as a mission, not as commerce. This kind of misperception is also current about the medical profession but medical experts are seldom recommended a code of ethics decrying commercialism among doctors. Similarly, the myth that education is a noble, non-commercial sector has not stopped private sector schools from functioning as free market. Somehow capital investment in newspapers and magazines is looked at with suspicion, as if the profit-motive should not be the primary concern of the journalistic profession. While the contemporary practice is decried as materialistic, journalists are asked to look at the pre-1947 Muslim press as an ideal, notwithstanding the lack of professionalism and continuity, and indulgence of personal bias, in it.
Paper-setting standards in the CSS
Paper-1 set for the year 1996, seeks a reporter to be 'well-versed in the Directing Principles of the Constitution, national history, security concepts and the nation's psyche'. Why should reporter be required to be well-versed in the above ideological prescriptions when all that the profession requires from him is objective reporting without injecting personal bias or belief in it? In the same paper the examiner says: 'Our media do not mirror the soul of our nation, have become the prophets of doom, spread cynicism and graft foreign values. Discuss.' This leading question wants the candidate to expatiate on the violations of the 'national ideology' being committed by the press in Pakistan while none of the violations mentioned are clearly defined. What is the soul of the nation? If the soul is Islamic then the charge is not correct because the Pakistani press has a strong religious bias and, for various reasons, doesn't hold to account the practice of religion in the country in the same manner as it does governance. The question is equally unclear about 'the psyche of the nation'? What are the foreign values being 'grafted' by the free press? If these questions have to be adjudicated, who is authorised to do it?
The urge to 'control' the free press
The CSS papers also betray the belief among the paper-setters that in the third world journalism should be 'controlled'. The question in Paper-2 of 1996 says: 'Explain how the mass media in the developing countries regulate themselves to avoid misuse of their freedom?' The inference here is that somehow the media in the advanced countries of the world don't need 'regulation', but in the third world, freedom has to be saved from abuse. Another question set in 1991 says: 'What role of the national mass media do you visualise in a crisis situation?' Here the implication is that during national crises the press must change its principles of disclosure and support the state. For example, if during a 'national' war with India, the Pakistani army violates human rights, should the press remain quiet on it. That this happened in the past was made clear when the true facts about the fall of East Pakistan came to light. In recent times, the silence of a major portion of the Indian press has refrained from disclosing the violations of human rights of the Indian army in Kashmir. Is the national press being asked to follow this example? Has this 'self-control' ever served the nation well? Why can't the press be asked to work on the same principles of disclosure as in peace-time? Is 'self-control' of this kind effective in stopping the spread of 'cynicism' and sense of 'doom'? How serious is the possibility of the national press losing its credibility under this kind of 'self-control'?
A hangover of the emergency laws
Pakistan's press has not been free during most of its history. The country has lived under emergency laws that suspended human rights and curtail the freedom of the press under suspension of this constitutional provision. The 'mass media' the papers refer to are Radio and TV which have remained under state control where 'self-control' actually means presentation of a parallel reality suited to the self-interest of the ruling party. Because of lack of literacy in Pakistan, it is TV and Radio which has the largest 'footprint' of coverage. Yet the free print medium, covering hardly 5 percent of thea population mostly in urban areas, is seen as more threatening because of its disclosures. Why should the CSS examiner be worried about these disclosures when the real mass medium is electronic serving the government under state control? In the days when the print medium too was not free, people had shifted from national Radio to the BBC's Urdu broadcasts. That the bureaucracy continues to believe in the efficacy of 'control' was proved by the imposition of emergency under prime minister Nawaz Sharif. If the government thought that this measure would bring freedom from journalistic disclosure it was mistaken. A beleaguered judiciary, recently chastened by an assault on its freedom, ruled that emergency laws would not apply to human rights. This legal interpretation constituted a break from the past in that the Supreme Court ignored its own jurisprudence and decided to defend the freedom of the press. Why hasn't the CSS examiner in 1996 taken account of this change of attitude in Pakistan? It seems that journalism has completed a significant journey in its evolution without the teacher of Journalism being aware of it. Is it possible that the teacher disapproves of the change and wants the profession to go back to old times?
Code of Ethics as weapon against the press
Although the CPNE Code of Ethics was never really accepted by the gagged press, the teacher seems to regard it as sacrosanct. The Code warned the journalist against writing anything endangering the security of the state, sowing distrust of the armed forces, and criticising countries friendly to The Code clearly emanated from Article 3-A of the Pakistan Penal Code punishing anyone who endangered the ideology of Pakistan and security of the state. After nearly three decades of journalistic practice, after the Code has been proved to be completely infructuous, why is the teacher of Journalism reverting to it? And why should the teacher now insist on asking the loaded questions in 1996 when in the earlier years he was less worried about press freedom. For instance, in Paper-2 of 1993, a question says: 'It is impossible to have a democratic society without complete freedom of the media of mass communication. Discuss.' This question assumes that freedom is required not only in the print medium but also in the electronic one, meaning thereby that as long as the electronic medium is in control of the government there can be no real democracy. Why should paper-setting patterns appear to be retrogressive and completely out of line with the practice of journalism in the country? Unfortunately, the course books recommended by the Punjab University for its MA Journalism (Urdu) faithfully reflect this mythology of journalism.
A profession like other professions
Journalism is usually described as 'noble' and its commercialisation decried despite the fact that all the Western newspapers admired as models are listed on the stock exchange. No one concentrates on the fact that most of the ills of journalism in Pakistan have spread from its not being completely commercial. Most newspapers are private limited enterprises closely run by their owner-editors. Had they been public limited companies listed on the stock exchange, they would be run like business, out of the control of their owners. Once journalism is completely commercial, it would be subject to laws guiding all commerce. Journalism done as 'mission' is without an ethic and therefore irresponsible. If all commercial enterprises are subject to legal codes and unwritten free-market principles, why should Journalism be subjected to restraint through special codes? The only restraint on the print medium is the law against libel and defamation. Disclosures that cannot be backed by evidence can be punished through fines at the court of law. This is the process that keeps journalism in the West in check. If the civil court procedure in Pakistan is faulty, why should Journalism be singled out and subjected to a treatment that is certain to destroy its freedom? Why should the government insist on a Press Council equipped with powers to levy fines and punish offending journalists when the civil courts are functioning in the country? And if the civil courts are corrupt why should it be assumed that members of the Press Council would free of corruption. In fact, tested against the general level of morality, our journalist community is found to be more corrupt. Finally, why should the Federal Public Service Commission blindly continue to allow a certain kind of teachers of Journalism to set its CSS question papers who are offended by press freedom?
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Press freedom in pakistan
Sunday, 30 April 2006
Fifty-nine years of struggle for press freedom “Press is considered to have duty towards the society not only to educate, cultivate and reflect public opinion but also to raise its voice against things, which are wrong and like to hurt the public, their right and welfare. It serves as the watchdog of the society, which keeps an eye on everything, which is going on. Hence, it is considered as sine qua non for a healthy and sane society.” (Zamir Niazi—Press in Chains). Pakistan came into existence on 14th august 1947. Quaid-e- Azam became its first governor general had a clear concept press freedom. He said, “I expect you (journalists) to be completely fearless. If I go wrong for that matter Muslim league goes wrong in any direction. I want you to criticise it honestly as its friend, infact as one who whose heart is beating with Muslim nation.” He did not allow legislation to suppress the press. Just one month of his death in September 1948, Public Safety Ordinance was implemented in October. In the first 7 years of independence from 1947 to 1953, 31 newspapers were banned for different time periods including literacy magazines like Naqoosh, Savera and Adab-e-Latif (Zamir Niazi-fettered freedom). Then came Ayub khan in 1958 with the first marshal law of this country. He took his first action against Progressive Papers limited (PPL) by taking it over under the security act (1952), which Zamir Niazi said was amended suitably for the purpose. He established the National Press Trust (NPT) in order to ensure the high standards of journalism in Pakistan. This organization turned the PPL papers into the mouthpieces of successive governments. The NPT owned about 11 newspapers in English, Urdu and Bengali in six major cities of united Pakistan (east and west). In June 1961, the Associated press of Pakistan was taken over by the Ayub khan because of its pathetic financial conditions (the agency was even unable to pay the salaries of its employees). From then on the agency has been used brutally to disseminate the propaganda of government and its functionaries to spread the better image of Pakistan. Since its take over it is mostly run by PID (press information department) men who sometimes have or have not journalistic knowledge which is necessary to serve the agency. Even today the managing director of APP is Fazal Ur Rehman, who is a PID man! And due to the persistent managements’ ignorance, Ministry of Information and broadcasting have always been able to dictate APP. He also promulgated the press and publications ordinance and introduced the system of press advice. A single phone call from press information department was enough to hipe a small issue or to completely drop a news story or photographs that annoyed the government. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto began his Awami raj with the vow of complete press freedom. He began his government by suspending two NPT editors. He was annoyed by the unbiased political coverage of PPI -- Pakistan’s second national news agency and decided to “fix up” the agency’s management. He cancelled the government’s subscription to make the agency suffer from the financial crisis. When he failed to force the agency to follow the official lines he decided to change the agency’s management and give his friend. Between 1971 and 1977. Bhutto launched a fierce crackdown on journalists and newspapers. Various newspapers were banned and journalists were hounded and insulted (Zamir Niazi – fettered freedom). His policy of nationalization also endangered the freedom of press as the government got the control of 60% of the advertisements. He used them as the tool to force the newspaper to become the tame voice of government. Zia ul Haq came with the blackest of the black law, the Press and Publication Ordinance, amended in 1963. This law increased the amount of security deposits from Rs. 10000 to Rs. 30,000.all the handouts and press releases by the government were made necessary to be published by the newspapers and in addition it authorized the government to issue warning to suspend the publication. He also gave the concept of pre- censorship. Whatever annoyed the government was censored even before the publication. He also gave the idea of self-censorship, which is still haunting our press, as it is something, which is still to be understood by the public of Pakistan. Thai concept has damaged the press even more than pre- censorship He also promulgated the libel act (Pakistan Penal code 499 and 500), which had its root in colonial past. This act forbade any kind of defamation against any person even if it is true or is in the interest of the public. Thus, depriving press of its right of surveillance and being watchdog of society. 1900 is considered the decade because the press started to flourish gradually. The main reason was the ending of Press and Publication Ordinance in Junejo’s time. Many new newspapers came out and made their audiences. Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto were unable to completely restrict the press because they governed for very small times. But Benazir most prominent act for curtailing the press freedom was to continue her father’s obsession to ruin the PPI. And who can forget the Nawaz Sharif desire of curbing the neck of PTV that changes its opinion according to the party in control. Musharraf’s era seem to be a beautiful dream for the freedom of press as he allowed the cable television to run in Pakistan, press can now criticize government and its functionaries more easily. But his Ordinance of 2002 and 2004 for APP seem to be the same way of keeping it under perfect control. This ordinance says that the agency’s Managing director is to be selected by Federal government as well as its budget is to be decided by it. The point here is that untill and unless the MD is selected by federal government, the agency cannot exercise free flow of information except the official version of every event. He has once again promulgated the Press and Publication Ordinance, which is somewhat familiar to the old one. Now the question for this nation is how long we are going to bare these restrictions on the press in the name of public interest and how long we will take to come out of this transaction face to emerge as mature press. According to me, as General Pervez Musharraf is the great favourer of “moderation and enlightment,” he should leave the press out of governments control and allow the press to make mistakes and learn from them. it is only if the government stops intervening and allow the press to take the responsibility from within and do what ever they want for the public interests.
PAKISTAN: Pemra told to stop threatening media freedom
PPP central information secretary refutes PEMRA's allegation that electronic media are airing "anti-Pakistan" content
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Karachi --- The Pakistan People's Party on Wednesday condemned what it called, an "open threat to the media from the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), saying that the authority would allow transmission of only approved political contents." The PPP deplored that a limited number channels were allowed to continue with their transmissions independently.
"As the fundamental constitutional rights of citizens stay suspended for almost 40 days, the Pakistani media which was earlier blacked out, is facing another onslaught as the regime has been making fresh attempts to muzzle the media," Sherry Rehman, the central information secretary of the party said in a statement.
Rejecting the Pemra allegation that the media organisations had been airing "anti-Pakistan content" she said that the so called media regulatory body had openly threatened the media with a three-year sentence, Rs10 million fine and cancellation of licence at failure to comply with the amended Pemra ordinance promulgated by General (Retd) Musharraf on Nov 3.
She said that Pemra had always acted as a "thinly disguised tool" to manipulate the media. Slapping penalties for airing what has been described as "anti-state content" has long been a favoured tactic with the regime that has completely lost sight of ground realities.
Everybody knows that the ban imposed on media organisations by Pervez Musharraf is unconstitutional and even when the regime has allowed the channels back on air, it has sliced off all the productions that it viewed with suspicion.
Ms Rehman said that the amended ordinance was nothing more than a piece of paper and had no constitutional value for Pemra to expect the media organisations to abide by it. The amended ordinance has neither been approved by parliament nor have the media organisations been consulted before drafting it. Its value, therefore, is the same as that of a martial law decree, i.e. absolutely unconstitutional.
Ms Rehman said PPP would continue to demand a halt to Pemra's intimidation spree against the media. Being an extended arm of the regime, Pemra in its current form is completely unacceptable to the entire nation. It has always been a controversial body and all its orders are the extension of the dictatorial ambitions of the Musharraf regime. More than a media regulatory body, Pemra has essentially turned out to be an organ that misses no chance to muzzle the media.
She warned Pemra against using its latest allegation against the media as an excuse to ban the small number of television channels currently on air. "The PPP will not allow Pemra to play with the people's right to information," she said, adding that Pemra should not only back off, but it should remove all curbs on Geo and other TV channels. She said Pemra had no right to decide what was "anti-state" and what was not.
She demanded that Pemra should refrain from declaring any anchor appearing on any TV channel an undesired one.
Date Posted: 12/12/2007
PAKISTAN: Role of media highlighted in human development
Journalists at NCHD seminar agree that role of media is vital to human development issues
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Thatta --- A seminar on the ‘role of media in human development’ called for coordinative volunteer services of media people to yield better results of the governmental and non-governmental welfare schemes and efforts. The seminar was organised by the National Volunteer Core of the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) held at the local press club on Wednesday.
Writer Dr Mohammad Ali Manjhi, Mehboob Brohi, Yar Mohammad Jalalani, Hafiz Mushtaq, Khuda Bux Brohi and others spoke on the occasion.
Speakers, most of them were journalists, were unanimous in their views that merely publishing activities of NGOs in newspapers was not enough but at least a part time involvement of media concerns to coordinate, help, monitor and motive a lot of still rigid population of rural areas and convince them to send their female children to schools and do not hesitate in availing health facilities in basic health units for their female was still a big task to achieve.
Speakers admitted that within a decade in prevailing and fast changing priorities of this material world the values of society, sincerity and affection with the land have been changed. The national conception was gradually vanishing and become a theory of past.
Man revolves around his personal agenda and a majority of those striving for the welfare of general population were also playing a puppet show. Such an environment has made even the true and sincere services of dedicated people suspicious.
Naming Abdul Sattar Edhi and others, speakers said these names still retain their position amongst the masses. In the field of media, the electronic and print, a majority could be seen indulged in encashing their capacities, but still the truth is held high.
NCHD general manag Mr Mehfooz Bhatti in his winding up speech pledged to get materialize the ideas.
Date Posted: 6/23/2005
PAKISTAN: Media's role in social change discussed
Seminar organizaed by Pakistan Press Foundation highlights media's role in bringing local issues to light, but stresses that it must also uncover those abusing the country's resources
Thursday, December 9, 2004
KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar on Thursday lauded the role of media in highlighting local issues, especially facing people of rural areas, and stressed it should now focus on wrong doings and abuse of resources by elite class in urban areas.
The seminar on "Role of media as human rights educators" was organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation on Thursday in connection with Human Rights Day being observed on Dec 10, dedicated by office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO to human rights education.
PPF General-Secretary Owais Aslam Ali, in his address, deplored that media highlighted human rights violations in the country but failed in playing due role in opinion building and educating the masses.
Media exposed military generals, bureaucrats, corrupt politicians and their feudal approach, but, it failed to focus on urban elite that was abusing the country's resources, he added.
He opined that media should show the real face of urban elite as it did in the case of feudal lords in order to introduce a new culture and change in society. Ghazi Sallahuddin, Council Member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said: "It is high time to see our society with a critical eye.
We always portray discouraging scenario of the society instead of thinking about the ground realities and what role is being played by civil society, government and the media," he said.
According to him, Pakistan is sixth largest country in the world with respect to population and the 7th nuclear power with a strong army, but the UNDP indicators about human development show that Pakistan is at 140th level in the world in human development.
Analysing current scenario of Pakistani print media, Mr Sallahuddin said that the combined circulation of all newspapers being published in English, Urdu and Sindhi in Pakistan was not more than circulation of Indian newspapers in a single city.
"Circulation of newspapers is not satisfactory while book reading and education level is also alarmingly low. Unless universities provide us quality products, the situation will not change," he added.
He maintained that universities should promote education in real sense and if higher educational institutions would not bring forth talented and educated people, who would bring definite changes.
In this gloomy situation, he said that a few people were struggling to change present situation in the media and they must be appreciated. He said that some people had reservations on the role of non-governmental organizations, but, in his opinion NGOs were playing their due role for betterment of civil society.
He said media could not attract talent as much as multinational companies were attracting towards them, as media was commercially motivated. In this situation, salary structure was also shocking and one of the reasons for its decline.
Ghazi Sallahuddin said that local media institutions lacked credibility and to improve their credibility, they should focus on genuine issues. However, he said that electronic media had played positive role to some extent in highlighting the real issues and educating the society.
Rumana Husain of the Human Rights Education Programme, in her presentation, briefed the participants about the working of her organization that had involved schoolchildren in social activities.
She said that instead of expecting more in the first step, media should try to educate people for social change. Fazal Qureshi also spoke at the seminar, which was attended among others by NGO representatives, human rights activists and journalists.
Date Posted: 12/9/2004
PAKISTAN: Print media needs to redefine role: journalists
Print media in Pakistan and India needs to redefine its role to compete in an age where electronic and digital technologies have taken away the initiative of 'on-the- spot' reporting
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
By Arshad Sharif
ISLAMABAD, Jan 5: Print media in Pakistan and India needs to redefine its role to compete in an age where electronic and digital technologies have taken away the initiative of 'on-the- spot' reporting.
Responding to a question about the trend in print media of stenographically-reproducing statements of the officialdom in India and Pakistan, Raja Mohan, a professor at the school of international studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a journalist representing The Hindu, said it was a crime not to make use of background information available on the internet and other information sources.
The advantage of the available information is not widely used despite the fact that visits to the library have been minimized because of accessible information on the click of the mouse, he said.
Talking about the dilemmas facing the media, Mr Mohan said the process of reporting had not been informed and attention was not given to detail. He emphasized the need for training the 'desk' to improve quality of editing.
He said the 'monster' of the 24-hour news had posed a new challenge to governments to grapple with the changed realities. The Indian and Pakistani journalists at the media centre in a local hotel said print media had to undergo transformation in reporting with emphasis on exclusive reporting and leading the electronic media rather than being its follower with stale news the next day.
"In an informed society, no one is interested to read the stenographically-reproduced statements of the heads of state or governments which have already been covered by the electronic media," a senior Indian journalist said.
According to Pakistan president, South Asia Free Media Association (Safma), all seven establishments of Saarc countries have been functioning as crass abusers of their underprivileged populations.
To bring about a change, a journalist said the debate about journalism of objectivity had been replaced with journalism of attachment in the domain of print media in which journalists act as agents of social change.
Echoing the same views, the Pakistan president Safma believed that the powerless had a few alternatives in the region and the media should serve as a voice, as a megaphone of sorts for those who cry out to be heard.
The journalists said comparison of the front pages of the newspapers in the US and European countries with those in the Saarc countries showed how far print media had to progress in the region to take the lead away from the electronic media and meet challenges of the 24-hour news 'monster'.
KHAWAR GHUMMAN ADDS: Several young Indian journalists who have come to Pakistan to cover the 12th Saarc Summit are hopeful that the ongoing Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) taken by India and Pakistan will lead to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
However, they feared that some international forces for their vested interests might disturb this momentum, hence both countries needed to remain vigilant.
They were talking to Dawn at the Indian media cell set up at a local hotel here on Monday. A woman journalist from India said: "Unfortunately over the last more than five decades our leaders have mercilessly deprived the poor masses of their basic rights with their ever-increasing defence budgets."
If France and Germany can come closer after the killing of millions of people on both sides during the world wars, why cannot we, she said.
Her colleague, Mr Ravi, supported her arguments and said now the onus was on the media of both the countries to end the propaganda that India and Pakistan could not live peacefully.
When asked about the general perception of Indians about Pakistan, he said people had totally different views than the leaders. They want to have friendly relations with Pakistan, he added.
Date Posted: 1/6/2004