Friday 19 October 2018

Sane Voices to be Muzzled in Pakistan

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize"

This is a quote that is applicable universally during any era or reign of any ruler.

Crack down against print media,electronic media in Pakistan started with judiciary putting a ban on Altaf Hussain's speeches/statements. Right or wrong, that is a different debate altogether. 

That was first step towards a well planned and articulate crack down against voices of sanity in Pakistan

After Altaf Hussain we saw that judiciary put ban on reporting of speeches of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. This "Muzzling of Electronic Media" before going into Elections 2018 was by no means an accident but a well planned action taken to later on achieve desired results by basically silencing head of the ruling Party and ensuring no coverage is given to them on media.

After these two incidents, it has all been downhill - Dawn Newspaper has been biggest victim so far in this onslaught of media and anchorpersons who don't necessarily bend to whim of Deep State.

Hameed Haroon appeared on Hard Talk with BBC with his reservations against the "media handling" of the Deep State especially after the Dawn Leaks Saga and how his Newspaper has not been allowed to be sold in specific part of country. 

After that a treason case was filed against Dawn Group Journalist Cyril Almeida for a news piece which later on came to be known as "Dawn Leaks"

Almeida is a strong secular writer who happens to be one of very few non-Muslim writers in Pakistan. For now Almeida's column are missing and he has been sent on a "break" since treason case was lodged against him.

What would be his fate is yet to be seen but it seems that "handlers" have decided to control the media groups by putting financial strains on them by blocking the Ad campaigns Government hands out to them.

Media houses which employee anchorpersons that have hard opinion on Govt policies are not given any Ad campaigns or any kind of Govt contracts which makes substantial part of their income thus forcing the media houses to sack such anchorpersons.

Latest victim of this assault against media in Pakistan has been Matiullah Jan sacked by Waqt News TV. In a short 3 minute statement given to UrduVOA Matiullah said "After spending 6 years with Waqt News TV and Nawai-Waqt Newspaper I have been given marching orders".

He said on UrduVOA that Ads were stopped systematically for certain media groups targeting them for their opinions and criticism of establishment due to interference in politics.

Matiullah was known for being an upright, staunch News Reporter who was known to criticize the "Deep State" and was highlighted as "Anti-State" element during a presser by DG ISPR 

On other hand it seems very coincidental that ex DG Radio Pakistan Murtaza Solangi also lost his job with Capital TV straight after he was involved in a spat with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.

We have one Journalist booked in treason case and two Journalists losing their livelihood mainly due to the strong opinion they have against involvement of establishment in political affairs.

Sadly silencing of the voices and opinons did not stop just at the Print or Broadcast Media but we have social media / twitter activists reporting threat calls made to them warning them to stop their activism on twitter.

We had case of Gul Bukhari missing for 40 hours, another case of an activist & writer AbuAleeha who was missing for many days, Activist Aadi Roy allegedly received threat calls.

All of these activists have one thing in common which is that they all seem to criticize the involvement of establishment in Political affairs.

You know that days ahead are dark and bleak when veteran Journalists like Muhammad Hanif are comparing current crack down to a dictator's era and is of an opinion that the constraints and silencing of Journalists was not this bad even in Zia's era.