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Pakistan August 16, 2010
H.E. Asif Al Zadari
Office of the President
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Fax: (011.92.51.2) 920.3938
We join many Pakistani journalists and media associations, as well as international civil groups, in deploring the actions taken in Pakistan to shut down TV stations and newspapers that had reported on your embarrassing encounter in Birmingham.
Although direct government actions to silence these journalists might have seemed too obvious, permitting activists from your party, the PPP, backed by police to commit the violent acts that did silence them was no better. As one protest by journalists in Pakistan put it, this was “hooliganism on a state level.”
Pakistan is already one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to practice their trade. Nevertheless, Pakistan enjoys a vibrant, inquisitive press, which is what a democracy needs. The departure of General Musharraf in 2008 was expected to free Pakistan‘s press from persecution; yet, under your government, the pressure to make the press toe the government line grows stronger.
The recent attacks on our Pakistani colleagues – blocking transmissions by Geo TV and ARY news, forcing cable companies to stop carrying those programs, seizing and burning newspapers – come of course at a particularly difficult time for Pakistan. The shoe-throwing when you were speaking in Birmingham recently was a trivial event compared to the calamity of this week’s floods in Pakistan.
Yet, that trivial incident was the immediate reason for cutting off the news just when the Pakistani people have the greatest need to know what is happening to them. To respond to a great emergency with silence is always more dangerous than telling people the truth.
By the time this reaches you, it may be that the action of the Lahore High Court will have succeeded in lifting the ban on the media. If so, well and good. But we, of the Overseas Press Club of America, urge you not to repeat this mistake the next time the press irritates you.
Co-chairmen – Freedom of the Press Committee
30, Tejgaon Industrial Area
Fax: (011.880.2) 811.2247
H E. Hussain Haqqani
Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
3517 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the United Nations
8 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 744.7348
H.E. Anne W. Patterson
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Embassy of the United States of America
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Fax: (011.92.51) 227.6427
Mr. Abbas Nasir
Haroon House, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed Road
Fax: (011.92.21) 569.3995
Islamabad Resident Editor
Aquhbar Market, Moti Plaza
531 Business Recorder Road
Pakistan Press Foundation