CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Mazhar Abbas

Mazhar Abbas is the former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and a 2007 winner of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Is Pakistan's Ansar Abbasi being banned?

Ansar Abbasi, editor of investigations for Pakistan's leading media group Jang, is apparently facing a de facto ban from his own employers. Other TV channels also report being told not to air his views. Abbasi has charged cable operators with spreading immoral, anti-Islamic messages through Indian movies and other popular culture broadcasts. In response, he says, they are censoring his views.

August 22, 2012 9:54 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Election corruption grave threat to Pakistan's media

"Elections will not be fought, but will be bought," is a saying being used by political tacticians in Pakistan. Hope for the legitimacy of the country's first fair transfer of power between two civilian governments with the oversight of unbiased media is disappearing quickly. Billions of rupees are pouring into media outlets through secret sources, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash is being paid out in several different ways. 

Blog   |   Malaysia, Pakistan

Can Pakistan's corrupt media be checked?

With ratings driving the profits of media channels, journalists and political talk show hosts are being motivated to stir up controversy at any cost. Meanwhile, the professionals who believe in credibility, objectivity, and honesty as essential parts of ethical journalism are becoming sidelined.

Blog   |   Pakistan

One year later: Saleem Shahzad's case is buried

A Pakistani journalist holds a sign at a protest against Shahzad's murder in Karachi last year. (AFP/Rizwan Tabassum)

On May 21 this year, a military court convicted three Pakistani naval officers of negligence and dereliction of duty for their actions during an attack on the main naval airbase in the heart of Karachi on May 22, 2011. After the incident had ended, the military said 10 security guards were killed, two aircraft were blown up, and the four men who carried out the attack were shot or blew themselves up after they had held out for 16 hours on the Mehran Naval Base.

Perhaps the best insider details about the raid came from Saleem Shahzad, a political reporter for Asia Online, in his article, "Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistani strike," that ran two days before his abduction on May 29, 2011. He had written in the past about militant groups and the military, with a book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, released just weeks before his murder. In his last article, he wrote about the Mehran events, reporting that armed forces personnel sympathetic to Al-Qaeda had helped coordinate the attack. On May 31 last year, his body was found floating face-down in an irrigation ditch.

May 29, 2012 3:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

No joke: Moves to squelch Pakistani media, again

Supporters of a Pakistani opposition party carry effigies of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari at a protest rally in Multan on May 11. (AFP/S.S. Mirza

With general elections approaching, the landscape is again bearing eerie resemblance to the final days of General Pervez Musharraf's reign. In November 2007 he banned selected TV channels for 88 days to stifle what he saw as "irresponsible journalism." Now, Pakistani electronic media might be chained again, this time for violating cultural and ethical values by airing satirical programming and interviewing political leaders the government does not like seeing on air.

Blog   |   Pakistan

With impunity, more danger ahead for Pakistani press

Pakistani journalists rally against the killing of their colleague Mukarram Khan Atif. No arrests have been made in the case. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistani journalists are under threat, and the public is paying the price. The most recent report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan includes a detailed chapter on freedom of expression, which ties growing suppression to rising incidence of violence and threats against news media. Not coincidentally, Pakistan sits near the top of CPJ's Impunity Index and other the global lists of most dangerous countries for reporters.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Karachi might be more dangerous for media than FATA

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefs Karachi's vibrant--and threatened--media in Karachi in May. (AP/Shakil Adil)

Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub, is one of the country's main media centers, with more than 2,000 journalists and the head offices of leading media organizations. Journalists in the city have come under attack before, with seven journalists killed there since 1994. But the situation was never as dangerous as it has been this past year.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Having captured killing on tape, cameraman fears for his life

Abdul Salam Somroo is in danger. He is the Awaz TV cameraman who took the June 9 video footage of the pointblank murder of a young man, Sarfaraz Shah, in southern Karachi. That's the same part of the city where militants beheaded American Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Only when Somroo got back to the offices of the Sindhi-language TV station and played back his full tape did he realize he had the most explosive footage he had ever recorded. Explosive, and dangerous.

June 16, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Slain journalists' families in Pakistan mourn for lifetime

It's a coincidence, but May 29, the date of Saleem Shahzad's kidnapping in Pakistan, coincides with the killing of journalist Munir Sangi six years ago. Against all odds, Sangi's widow, Yasmeen Sangi, is still fighting for justice in the case of her late husband, while Shahzad's widow, Anita Saleem--who is now responsible for the couple's three children--has decided not to appear publicly yet. Either way, fighting outright or suffering in silence, slain journalists' families pay a price that lasts a lifetime

June 9, 2011 4:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

A friend remembers Saleem Shahzad

When I received an unexpected call early Monday morning from Saleem Shahzad's wife, I knew I was in for some bad news.

"Saleem has not come home since Sunday evening, when he was on his way to a television studio," she said. She told me that she then remained as composed as possible until she received a call informing her of his death 48 hours later.

May 31, 2011 3:27 PM ET

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