Nation's Editorial on Nov 5 "Odd Ad" questions the Govt
Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres issues Strong Statement
on Nov 5
Ads Placed in Pakistani Media Against South Asia Tribune
Almost all major Pakistani newspapers, published in English, Urdu
and even Sindhi languages, carried an official advertisement on
Nov 2 warning the media against reprinting stories and articles
published by the South Asia Tribune.
a strange move which amounted almost to imposing a pre-censorship
on newspapers, the Information Ministry described everything published
in the SA Tribune as "concoctions and fabrications
targeted to malign the Government of Pakistan."
pointing at any particular story or article, most of which are
well documented and with corroborating evidence posted on the
newspaper site, the Government of Pakistan advertisement objected
to reproduction of these stories in mainstream Pakistani newspapers.
newspapers and periodicals in Pakistan are reproducing stories
and reports placed on a website originating from outside the country...
The contents are defmatory, slanderous and libelous. The author
is a self-exiled Pakistani with an agenda all his own," the
Ad PID (1) 4452/02 printed in Daily 'Jang', 'The
News', 'The Nation', Daily 'Ibrat' (Sindhi) and
many other newspapers on Nov 2, 2002.
source of his inspiration to launch a defamatory campaign against
of Pakistan and its functionaries is known to media circles in
Pakistan," the Ad continued. "They are, therefore, requested
to refrain from reporting such concoctions and fabrications in
their media unless they can substantiate the contents."
Ad ended on this note of warning: "Reproducing defamatory
and libelous material can attract provisions of the law against
the ads in English, Urdu and Sindhi did not formally mention the
name of the Advertiser, as is always obligatory in such government
ads issued by the Press Information Department (PID) of the Information
Ministry in Islamabad.
to the ads campaign, Editor of the South Asia Tribune,
Shaheen Sehbai said in Washington it was a crude attempt by the
military regime's ill-informed and ill-advised leaders to intimidate
the local Press which found most of the reports and exposes of
SA Tribune credible and fully substantiated by documentary
appears to be the work of an amateur mind. By placing these ads
in all leading newspapers the Government has given tremendous
publicity to the South Asia Tribune and thus helped increase
its readership manifold. We can only say 'Thank You' to these
advisers and officials of General Musharraf."
said the ads had been placed after repeated personal attempts
by senior most officials of the Information Ministry to stop the
local media from using and reprinting SA Tribune reports.
"They cannot force the media to censor itself as all reports
in the SA Tribnune carry full evidence in shape of government
documents, summaries and reports. In view of such convincing substantiation,
how can any professional newspaper ignore a major scandal or a
breaking story," Sehbai said.
hesitation to own the ads by not giving out the name of the sponsoring
Ministry or Department also reflected the fact that the Information
Ministry bosses were acting in panic and almost apologetically,
without knowing what they were doing.
strongly refuted the allegations that he had any personal agenda.
"My agenda is that of every investigative newspaper and journalist.
It is to expose all corruption and wrong-doings of this unconstitutional
military government, as I have been doing for the past 30 years,
in all governments and under all circumstances. We have tried
to be as professional and objective as possible in reporting the
corruption scandals of the Musharraf Government, most of which
are now being confirmed and reproduced by the local media and
the political parties."
may be recalled that recently two references were filed against
two corrupt ministers of the Musharraf Government by two major
political parties, the PPP and PML-N, based on reports published
in the South Asia Tribune.
PML-N filed its reference with the National Accountability Bureau
against Communications and Railways Minister and ex-ISI Chief
Javed Ashraf Qazi, accusing him of gobbling up billions of rupees
in Railway lands, petrol pump contracts and a Rs 25 billion Golf
Course in Lahore. Click
here to see latest on this controversy The Minister reacted
against the Information Secretary of PML-N, Siddiq ul Farooq,
by publicly threatening him on ARY TV Channel one day. The next
day he was picked up by ISI goons, given a thorough beating and
abandoned in a forest 40 miles from Islamabad. Again a day later
the arrogant minister spoke on BBC Urdu Service and used abusive
and unbecoming language against the PML-N official Click
here to hear BBC Interview (Real
second reference was filed by the Pakistan People's Party against
Agriculture Minister Khair Mohammed Junejo who was accused of
corruption of millions of dollars in awarding deep sea fishing
contracts to black listed companies. The Pakistan Navy had originally
filed a report against the award of these contracts by Minister
Junejo and General Musharraf's Adviser M. Shafi Niaz had written
a strong letter pointing to the corruption. But all this was ignored
by General Musharraf. Click
Here to Read Reference Report
solid evidence produced by South Asia Tribune has thus
landed at least two ministers in trouble while scandals involving
the father in law of Bilal, General Musharraf's son, in which
he had taken a two per cent commission in the Peshawar-Rawalpindi
Motorway have also been confirmed. This apparently has unnerved
the Government to the extent that they have now started publicly
warning other newspapers.
ads come amid the continuing and shameless persecution of members
of the Sehbai family. Sehbai's brother-in-law Mansoor is in Rawalpindi
jail for over two weeks after being denied bail by a judge in
a totally fake case. Another cousin's son, Imran, was released
from jail after 48 days but only after the brother in law had