Pakistan’s media wars – my article for Himal Southasian

Himal-Growing media, shrinking spaces?Himal Southasian, a publication I’m proud to have been associated with since its inception in 1996, has a new issue on the media. My piece Pakistan’s media wars (below) and Mass media and the Modi ‘wave’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are web exclusives. Two additional points to my article:  1. Corporate media owners in Pakistan have always been part of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in general. Their disputes with censoring governments have almost always had commercial motivations. 2. Journalists have played a positive role whenever they remained united in their professionalism. They compromise this unity when they allow journalistic standards to slip and try to become power brokers themselves.

By Beena Sarwar

4 July 2014

What is the political fallout of the battle between a media behemoth and Pakistan’s largest security agency?
Continue reading

Tricks of the Dirty Tricks Brigade

Belatedly updating my blog with the article I wrote for The News on Sunday, June 15, 2014, as part of a Special Report on conspiracy theories. Other reports in that issue were Dr M. Taqi’s The truth behind conspiracy theories in Pakistan, an interview of Nadeem Farooq Paracha and more.  Lots has happened since then, but this remains relevant.

Tricks of the Dirty Tricks Brigade

Graphic: TNS

If India and Pakistan develop a good relationship, how will the security establishment justify its existence? Continue reading

“In a democracy the people are supreme, and can criticize all government agencies, which are only servants of the people”

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman Press Council of India, emailed the following statement about the attack on Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir:

May 23, 2014: I strongly condemn the attack in Karachi on Hamid Mir, the well known Pakistani journalist, who sustained six bullet injuries in the attack. This is a direct attack on media freedom, whether it was by the Taliban or ISI or anyone else.

Though I have differed with some of the views of Mr. Hamid Mir, I believe, like Voltaire, that he has the democratic right to express his views. Continue reading

Hamid Mir and the ideological security establishment

Below, text of my interview with Viewpoint Online about the Hamid Mir saga, that began with the murderous attack on one of Pakistan’s top journalists and television talk show hosts, who has angered Pakistan’s ideological security establishment with his stands on 1971, regional peace (including with India), and most recently, Balochistan. Besides speaking openly about the distorted history we are taught about this issue in Pakistan, he even walked in support with the Baloch Long March activists. Also read these excellent analyses: Sahar Habib Ghazi on Pakistani spies, Mir, and the missing people of Balochistan, and Jugnu Mohsin –  Rumi and Mir. The character assassination on Hamid Mir now reminds me of the campaigns that followed the attack on Raza Rumi that killed his driver, and even before that, against Malala Yusufzai when she was shot. And this measured speech by Shaheen Qureshi at a recent SAFMA meeting (video, Urdu). Continue reading

Projecting Quaid-e-Azam as ‘secular’ is treason?

The #fakenationalists have been targeting progressive Pakistanis for some time, aided by the #DirtyTricksBrigade, but their desperation has intensified of late. Is it a coincidence that a treason case has been filed against those identified in this defamatory poster, along with others? The poster, uploaded on facebook on March 13, 2012 by an APML supporter, features (left to right) Nusrat Javeed, Najam Sethi, Beena Sarwar, Marvi Sirmed, Imtiaz Alam. The text identifies us as “sellouts for religion and country” set on an “anti-Pakistan agenda” along with the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) (that most of us are not part of). It ends: “Come join the patriotic forces to unveil these traitors of Pakistan who hide behind the veil of journalism”.

UPDATE: May 8, 2014- The Supreme Court of Pakistan admitted Zaid Hamid’s petition filed two years ago, seeking a treason trial against Asma Jahangir and several journalists for allegedly undermining the Two Nation Theory and glory of Islam. Coming just days after the attack on Hamid Mir  (one of the ‘treason’ case respondents) and subsequently Geo TV, is this development a coincidence? 

On March 28, 2012, lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri  filed a petition for high treason (under Article 6, punishable by death) on behalf of the so-called ‘security and defence analyst’ Zaid Zaman Hamid in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad, against 17 respondents whom the petition terms ‘snakes’ (including your’s truly). Our alleged crimes include “Trying to project Quaid-e-Azam as secular leader, lowering the image of Allama Iqbal, aggressively attacking the image of armed forces and ISI”.

The respondents include the prominent human rights advocate and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir and journalists Continue reading

An Open Letter To Marvi Sirmed

An Open Letter To Marvi Sirmed by Usmann Rana. Thanks for speaking up.

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