Showing posts from July, 2019

A visit seeking to reset Pakistan-U.S. relations

It was a much-awaited meeting. Ties between Pakistan and the U.S. have strained since Donald Trump became the President and the U.S. withheld some aid to Pakistan. But the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Trump went smoothly, in which the leaders discussed a host of issues from the Afghan peace process to the Kashmir issue. Mr. Khan later thanked “President Trump for his warm & gracious hospitality, his understanding of Pakistan’s point of view & his wonderful way of putting our entire delegation at ease”.

The Prime Minister’s visit has “begun the journey of restoring Pakistan’s dignity, pride and respect, which will serve as the foundation for further positive developments and progress to come,” Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, who was with Mr. Khan during his U.S. visit, told The Hindu.

Sherry Rehman, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the Senate and a former Ambassador to the U.S., said she would not pa…

Pakistan ruling party’s tweets spark fresh censorship concerns

PM Imran Khan’s PTI asks scribes to practise journalism, not ‘agenda’

On July 16, the official Twitter handle of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) sparked off a fresh debate on censorship under the present regime when it sent out a dozen tweets on media ethics, using the hashtag #JournalismNotAgenda.

The content of the tweets confirmed that PTI’s media managers have a murky understanding of state, citizenship, media and the complementary way they function in a democracy, said political analyst Salman Zaidi, speaking to The Hindu. “Whether or not these tweets represent the Prime Minister’s views... the PM is not known to rein in federal Ministers when they behave like trolls,” he said.

Pointing out that many of the statements tweeted invoked “defence and security”, Mr. Zaidi said that with an increased securitisation of the public sector apparatus, fundamental freedoms were being defined in terms of security.

Freedoms under threat

“Dictatorships upend media freedoms, and the PTI…

Hafiz Saeed held in terror financing case

Pakistan on Wednesday arrested Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people.

An FIR against Saeed, who has been declared a global terrorist by the U.S. and the UN, and four others — Abdul Ghaffar, Hafiz Masood, Ameer Hamza and Malik Zafar Iqbal — was registered at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station in Gujranwala, Punjab, on July 1 on charges of terror financing.

According to a statement from the CTD Punjab spokesperson, Saeed “has been sent to prison on judicial remand... He will face trial in the ATC [Anti-terrorism Court] Gujranwala in the said case.”

A spokesman for Saeed’s group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, confirmed the arrest to the news agency AFP.

Lahore bureau chief of Geo News Raees Ansari said Saeed was arrested on his way from Lahore to a court in Gujranwala to seek anticipatory bail.

“Saeed got interim bail from an anti-terrorism court in Lahore earlier this week. The CTD, anticipat…

Pakistan tightens media censorship

Two interviews of Opposition leaders were taken off air, another one was cancelled at the last minute

In recent weeks, Pakistan has seen interviews of two high-profile Opposition leaders being taken off air, raising fears of growing censorship of media by the government.

After former President Asif Ali Zardari’s interview went off-air from Geo News earlier this month, an interview with Maryam Nawaz, leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Hum News met with the same fate last week.

Journalist Nadeem Malik, who interviewed Ms. Nawaz, tweeted that he “just came to know [that] @MaryamNSharif interview has been stopped forcefully just few minutes after it started Live”. He telecast the interview on his Twitter and YouTube accounts.

In a press conference held earlier this month, Ms. Nawaz played a video of Judge Arshad Malik in which he is seen allegedly admitting that he was blackmailed into giving a verdict against former Prime…

Fears of censorship, vendetta grip Pakistan

On Monday evening, Geo News started telecasting an interview of former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. But a few minutes into the interview, it was stopped, without any explanation.

Earlier in the day, Rana Sanaullah, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was arrested by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) for “possession of a huge amount of drugs”, allegedly found in his car. The incidents have raised fears about censorship and crackdown on political vendetta.

Journalist Muneeb Farooq said the current government is a renewed version of Pervez Musharraf’s military regime where there was a titular head who owed everything to the people who brought him to power. “It is designed to be a 10-year-rule. Brace yourselves for more crackdowns, for more censorship and for more arrests of Opposition leaders. The interesting bit is that nobody can predict that maybe a year down the line, the ones who are blue-eyed can become expendables,” Mr. Farooq told The Hindu.

Ajmal Ja…

Zardari interview taken off air, sparks censorship fears in Pakistan

On Saturday, journalist Hamid Mir interviewed former President and co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, in Parliament House in Islamabad. The interview was to be aired at 8 pm on Geo News on Monday.

The interview went on air but after a few minutes, it was taken off air without any explanation. Mr. Mir tweeted: “Interview of Asif Zardari stopped on Geo News within few minutes.. those who stopped it have no courage to accept publicly that they stopped it.”

The incident started a debate on Twitter about media censorship in Pakistan and whether someone who is under arrest should be interviewed in the first place. Mr. Zardari is under arrest and being investigated for corruption, including a fake bank accounts case, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Mr. Mir told The Hindu that Mr. Zardari came to Parliament on a production order (with permission to attend a Parliament session), so there is nothing illegal about the interview. “Asif Zardari spoke t…

Elected or selected PM?

A debate is on in Pakistan

Last Sunday, Qasim Suri, Deputy Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly (NA), asked Members of Parliament not to use the word ‘selected’ for Prime Minister Imran Khan. Federal Minister of Power Omar Ayub Khan was speaking on a point of order when he asked the Deputy Speaker to stop the Opposition members from using the word. Mr. Ayub Khan threatened to use privilege motions against those who would use this word.

It all began with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s maiden speech at the National Assembly in August last year. “I’d like to thank and congratulate the Prime Minister-select and wish him good luck” is how Mr. Bhutto concluded his speech. Prime Minister Khan thumped his desk after Mr. Bhutto’s speech. It is said that he must have missed the word ‘select’ and may have thought he was being called ‘Prime Minister-elect’.

People commented on Mr. Bhutto-Zardari’s wit and since that day, the phrases ‘Prime Minister-select’ and ‘…