New York, March 15, 2004—Last week, Pakistan’s Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, acknowledged that the government had suspended advertising in newspapers belonging to the Nawa-i-Waqt Group of Publications, including the English-language daily The Nation and the Urdu-language daily Nawa-i-Waqt. He denied, however, that an official ban had been issued.
In February, the government effectively stopped all advertising revenue from both federal and provincial government sources to the newspaper group, according to local press reports. The Nawa-i-Waqt Group is one of Pakistan’s leading media organizations and publishes more than 10 daily newspapers and magazines.
In interviews with local media, Nawa-i-Waqt Executive Editor Arif Nizami blamed the government action on the newspaper’s critical coverage. "Our reporting about the supremacy of democratic institutions in the country pains the rulers," said Nizami. Local journalists say that this action is an attempt by the government to pressure and control independent newspapers in Pakistan.
In a March 11 meeting at the National Assembly, Information Minister Rashid claimed responsibility for the action against the Nawa-i-Waqt Group, but denied that there was an official ban, saying instead that there had been a "reduction in the supply of advertisements." Rashid promised that he would "sort out the problem," and that the group would be compensated for their losses from the government’s actions.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, and other journalists groups protested the government’s move against the Nawa-i-Waqt Group and accused the government of violating press freedom in Pakistan.
"Press freedom is adversely affected when governments use advertising to punish critical publications," said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Pakistani authorities must ensure the public that no such action was taken against the Nawa-i-Waqt Group of Publications." In 2002, the government stopped nearly all advertising to the Jang Group of Newspapers, another powerful media company, soon after one of its newspapers, the English-language daily The News, ran a story connecting the main suspect in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl with the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.
Pakistani police arrest, beat Norwegian TV reporter covering political rally
July 17, 2018 2:35 PM ET
New York, July 17, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Pakistani authorities to allow journalists to carry out their work without fear of reprisal. Journalist Kadafi Zaman, a reporter for Norway's TV 2, told CPJ he was arrested and beaten by police while covering a political rally...
With elections looming in Pakistan, two journalists attacked
June 6, 2018 5:03 PM ET
New York, June 6, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today strongly condemned the abduction of journalist Gul Bukhari and the attack against journalist Asad Kharal in Lahore, Pakistan, yesterday and urged Pakistani authorities to promptly investigate the incidents and prosecute the perpetrators....
Pakistan army spokesperson accuses journalists of anti-state activity on social media
June 5, 2018 1:54 PM ET
New York, June 5, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned comments from Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesperson for Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies, who accused journalists of sharing anti-state remarks on social media....
Pakistani authorities disrupt distribution of Dawn newspaper
May 22, 2018 11:38 AM ET
New York, May 22, 2018--Pakistani authorities should immediately halt any restrictions on the distribution of Dawn newspaper in Pakistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Distribution of the newspaper has been disrupted in many parts of the country in recent weeks, Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas told CPJ....
Pakistan orders closure of US-funded Radio Mashaal office in Islamabad
January 19, 2018 4:06 PM ET
New York, January 19, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Pakistani authorities to immediately reverse the order issued to close the Islamabad bureau of Radio Mashaal, the Pashto-language service of U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)....