Monthly Archives: November 2009

Halal Media or Free Media?

Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

Over the last weeks, television screens have broadcasted the growing and angry media sentiment against government over ban on a talk show of a private TV channel by Dubai authorities. Freedom of expression denotes not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and delivering information or ideas.  Freedom of expression is closely related to the concept of freedom of conscience and freedom of thought. Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan gives powers to the state to restrict the freedom of expression in interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, or incitement to an offense.

It is the jurisdiction of the judiciary, which itself has been under strong influence of establishment to decide what restrictions may be placed on freedom of expression. Although these restrictions are not strictly enforced by the judiciary but religious conservative groups in the population enforce these restrictions at will followed by the heavy-handed tactics of the police, the army and the intelligence services to intimidate journalists perceived to cross the ‘limits’. The history and influence of religious extremists in media dates back to the process of the politicization and militarization of religious groups initiated both by national and international actors during cold war. Continue reading


Filed under Media

Pakistani Rock Comes of Age

By Zia Ahmad

Summer 1995

The world was young, so was I. Still in my teens, my head ran on a brew of boundless enthusiasm and hope for tomorrow. The teenage optimism extended itself to Pakistani pop bands I was listening to back in the day: the MCC (Music Channel Charts) stable bands, Pepsi Top of the Pops confetti we were served week after week, Junoon and Vital Signs defining the musical landscape of Pakistan. Good times. Then again, there was only this much I could take of tuneful melodies and slick pop melodies. The thingness of things felt a tad incomplete. Lucky for me I had already discovered grunge that perfectly filled the void. Continue reading

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Filed under Music, Pakistan

Are sections of Pakistani media destabilising democracy?

Bilal Qureshi has contributed this piece for PTH. We do not necessarily agree with all the contents of this article but the issue is important enough to be debated. (RR – ed PTH)

Journalism 101, that is, the very first lesson of journalism is impartiality. In other words, journalists, at least in civilized societies don’t take any position on issues. And editors make sure that personal opinion don’t seep into the work that the journalists are assigned. This is common practice, and even in India, if you read the papers or watch their talk shows, it is impossible to associate journalists with any particular political party. So, in this light, it is utterly nauseating to see media in Pakistan, both electronic and print (especially Urdu media) engage in efforts to destabilize a democratically elected government. Especially, a channel backed up a by large paper is maliciously attacking everything that the government does day after day in print, and night after night on television.

This must be stopped.

No, this level of journalistic activism can never be defended or worse, tolerated. Zardari did the right thing when he spoke clearly and aggressively against the conspiracy theorists when he addressed a rally in Karachi.

Now, the government must come out swinging against the types of immoral, unethical, and extremely biased anchors that we see in Pakistan today. Continue reading


Filed under Democracy, Media

Claim: Pentagon tried to ‘intimidate’ journo covering Blackwater

By Daniel Tencer
Thursday, November 26th, 2009 — 9:22 pm

michaelmullen Claim: Pentagon tried to intimidate journo covering BlackwaterThe office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking soldier in the US, tried to intimidate a reporter working on a story about security contractor Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan, the reporter claims.

Jeremy Scahill — whose story alleging secret assassination and bombing campaigns inside Pakistan run by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater, appeared in The Nation on Monday — said he received a phone call from Adm. Mullen’s office the day before the story appeared, informing him that his story “didn’t match up with reality.” Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan

Balochistan: too small an olive branch

Cross Post from

By Qurratulain Zaman, 27 November 2009

“They ordered me to rape her. She was so thin and was crying when they brought her in the room. I was terrified to look at her, as I thought she was a spy or an agent”, says Munir Mengal, a 33- year- old Baloch, living in forced exile in Paris.

Munir Mengal spent 16 months in underground jails of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. “The low rank officers came back to the room and started beating me because I didn’t obey their orders. They took off my clothes by force and hers too, and left us alone. In her sobs I heard her praying in Balochi language. She was praying for someone named Murad. That’s how I got to know she is my fellow Baloch. That gave me the courage to talk to her.” Munir says that, still sobbing, she told him her name was Zarina Marri. She used to be a school teacher. She and her son Murad, who was only a few months old, were picked up by the intelligence agencies from Kohlu.

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Filed under baluchistan, Democracy, Heritage, Islamabad, journalism, Pakistan, Politics

A Tale of two Stories

By Cyril Almeida

Cross Post from and


MILITARY men have been up to some very bad things, we’ve learned this week. But the very different reactions to two seemingly unrelated stories in the media tell us at least one thing: things aren’t going to get better any time soon.

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Filed under Army, Democracy, Islamabad, journalism, Law, Pakistan, Parliament, Zardari

Extracting Political Decisions from the Judiciary in Pakistan

By Ahmed Nadeem Gahla

A study of transformation from military dictatorship to democracy around the world would reveal that there are two possible ways. Either it is achieved through a popular revolution or by negotiations between political forces and dictators.

The former invariably demolishes the entire system and mostly involves bloodshed putting a new system in place while the later allows the change to happen within the prevailing system based upon certain negotiated terms.

These terms might not necessarily meet the international laws and judicial norms as it is always a middle path.

  Continue reading


Filed under Army, Democracy, Elections, Islamabad, journalism, Pakistan, Parliament, Zardari