By Faisal Zaidi
Pakistani Press divided into different parts according to their struggle in the different eras.
The first era (1947-1957): when press struggled for constitution and the reformation for the democratic Govt. They took their clear stands against judiciary, Establishments and Military.
The Pakistan Times, Dawn news and Jung group wrote several editorials on it.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s 11th August 1947 speech and press reaction is one example. In that speech Jinnah stated that state had nothing to do with citizen’s religions, but Ch. Muhmmad Ali who was the part of establishment he forced the editors to cut the words from the speech, by saying this that “this speech is against the two nation theory”. But the editor of the Dawn News, Altaf Hussain refused to do it, he published the whole speech as it was.
“Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
[Dawn, Independence Day Supplement, August 14, 1999].
2nd Period is called Ayub’s era till martial law (1958-1971):
In this Period Field Marshal General Ayub introduced Press and Publication Order 1963 (PPO) law to control the press media,
According to this Ordinance license system introduced in Pakistan and it is being said that the Magistrate had the authority to cancel the Subscription of any newspaper or printing house at any time he wants to, and those who wants to apply for the License, should have the relevant degree.
After the Ayub’s era Partition of Bangladesh happened, in 1971 Pakistan had a new government. Under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, he had an even tougher relationship with journalists, poets and the media.
A renowned leftist poet “Habib Jalib” was sent to jail after his poem “Larkane Chalo Warna Thane Chalo”.
Go to Larkana
The royal palace has issued a decree: Go to Larkana,
Or else go to the police station.
[This translation is from www.revolutionarydemocracy.org]
Zia Shahid who was the editor of Khabrain Group was also sent to jail after criticizing the Bhutto Govt.
The Zia ul Haq era (1978-1988): was perhaps the most oppressive era for not only journalists, but also for the common man and the politicians. Everyone who dared to speak against him, was “rewarded” with lashes in the public, and imprisoned or fined by the Govt. No one was allowed to speak against the military, Govt, establishment and against the local Govt. Pakistani nation was in chains during that era. Poets, journalist, politicians did not lose heart, they carried their struggle through different tools. Habib Jalib wrote a revolutionary poem against Zia’s era.
“Haq baat pe koday aur zindaan, Batil ke shikanje me hai ye jaan
Insaan he ke sehme bethe he, Khoon-khwar darinde he raksaan
Iss zulm-o-sitam ko lutf-o-karam Iss dukh ko dawa kya likhna
Zulmat ko zia, sar sar ko saba, Banday ko khuda kya likhna”
For the truth you are flogged and imprisoned, Our lives are trapped in the grip of lies, As citizens crouch in terror, The blood thirsty monsters roam about. This cruelty as kindness, this disease as a cure I cannot write. This dark night as dawn, these toxic fumes as a breeze And a human as god I cannot write.
He was also subjected to lashes and imprisonment for this Poem.
Public meetings were banned, those who were caught lost their jobs and some even were jailed and flogged.
Courtesy Archive pictures: Public Lashes
Zia killed in an airplane crash and Benazir’s popularity was on peak, people gave her their verdict with their votes and were expecting something from the BB’s Government. But Due to establishment’s resistance and opposition’s dirty politics BB’s era got end after the couple of years.
Then 90’s had BB and Nawaz shareef both for the two times in Govt. In these civilians era media even did not get freedom and voice to get speak, BB had their conflict with Jung Group, Journalist Hamid Meer mentioned these conflicts in his book “Bhutto and 4th Marshal Law”. Nawaz Sharif tries to Ban Jung Group and had rivalry with other media groups like Dawn news.
After Mushraf’s period (1999-2007): even he was also military dictator, but he gave freedom to the media due to the western pressure, but he made Pakistan Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) and made some strict rule for media, he even had clashes with Jang group and at the time of lawyers movement he banned Geo News, a channel of Jang group. In the information and broadcasting law it was written that Govt had an authority to close the transmission of any channel, and Govt. may also cancel the license of media group. When Zardari’s govt came into power their information and broadcasting minister who was once a journalist Sherry Rehman decided to nullify this act, and she sent her recommendations to the parliament and in 2008 parliament decided to cancel this clause in the PEMRA act.