Showing posts from November, 2018

Muzzling the media

Free media is a prerequisite for any democratic country but the media in Pakistan is facing the worst kind of censorship. I joined journalism back in 2005. There was censorship back then as well, which got worse during emergency but even then we could fight back to a certain extent. But now there is another sort of pressure on the media. Journalists may not be ‘killed’ anymore but they are either ‘picked up’ and given a ‘message’ or the same message is given by beating up journalists or threatening them.

Just last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published a damning report on the state of the media in Pakistan. It said that journalists “painted a picture of a media under siege”. The report further said: “The military has quietly, but effectively, set restrictions on reporting: from barring access to regions … to encouraging self-censorship through direct and indirect methods of intimidation, including calling editors to complain about coverage and even allegedly insti…

When Imran Khan went to China

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to China has come under scrutiny for many reasons — primarily because he left the country at a time when violent protests had erupted in the aftermath of the Asia Bibi verdict. Another reason is that the details of a much-awaited financial package from China are not yet out.

Before the visit, Prime Minister Khan and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that China would give the same financial package as the one announced by Saudi Arabia to help Pakistan ease its balance of payments crisis.

Saudi Arabia had earlier announced a $6-billion package — $3 billion in foreign currency support and $3 billion in loan. “But since the visit, we haven’t been clearly told how much money has been given,” said senior journalist Shahzad Iqbal.

“Finance Minister Asad Umar has given us some indications but has maintained that they cannot share the exact details with us. Mr. Umar quoted an incident where President Xi (Jinping of China) assured the…

Blasphemy case: Pakistan Supreme Court overturns Asia Bibi's death sentence

The Christian woman was facing death for ‘insulting Islam’; SC says prosecution failed to prove charges

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for alleged blasphemy. This was her final legal appeal before execution.

Ms. Bibi was falsely accused of committing blasphemy in 2009. In 2010, a trial court sentenced her to death. In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld the trial court’s verdict.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel finally overturned the conviction. yesterday The ruling said: “Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Imran’s warning

Prime Minister Imran Khan took a clear and unequivocal stand on the verdict by addressing the nation in a televised speech on Wednesday evening. He w…

A reality check for Prime Minister Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lost three National Assembly (NA) seats in the October 14 byelections, two of which were won by Mr. Khan in the July general election and vacated later, in what is widely seen as a reality check for the Prime Minister. Byelections took place for 11 NA and 24 Provincial Assembly seats. Both the PTI and and the Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won four NA seats each.

While the PTI should be worried after the results and the PML-N was celebrating, the real winner of these elections was the Results Transmission System (RTS), which did not crash this time around. The Election Commission and all political parties can never forget the disaster that was the RTS during the July general election. Opposition parties allege that the RTS crash was a ploy to rig the polls. But over the byelections, there were hardly any such allegations.

Journalist Imtiaz Alam said the results were the first indicator of the downturn of the p…