April 21, 2024

Press Freedom


Pakistan September 26, 2005

H.E. Pervez Musharraf
Office of the President
Constitution Avenue
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Fax: ( 20-39-38

Your Excellency:

As members of the Freedom of the Press Committee of the Overseas Press Club of America, we wish to share our sense of alarm at the attacks against and mistreatment of journalists in your country. By our count, in less than a month in Karachi alone, there have been at least six official actions taken against publications and members of the press:

1) the police in Karachi raided the offices of Zarb-i-Islam, the Urdu-language weekly newspaper, arresting its editor , Nasir Ali Jahangir , his assistant editor, Mohammad Saleem , and at least five people who sell the newspaper, including Mohammad Imran, Abdul Latif, Abdul Rehman, Mazhar Abbas , and Mohammad Irfan ;

2) the police confiscated copies of Zarb-i-Momin , another weekly newspaper;

3) the police shut down the offices of Friday Special, the Urdu-language weekly newspaper owned by Jasarat, the daily newspaper, and arrested Friday Special’s assistant editor, Abdul Latif Abu Shamil ;

4) the police searched the offices of Wujood, the weekly newspaper, and arrested Mohammed Tahir , Wujood’s assistant editor;

5) the police searched the offices of Ghazi , the weekly newspaper;

6) the police searched the offices of Ummat , the daily newspaper.

We recognize, Mr. President, that Pakistan is seeking to reduce and eliminate the incitement of religious hatred, which is the reason given by authorities for taking these actions. Since there were no reports that charges have been filed against these alleged wrong-doers, we must protest these actions as an attempt to stifle political expression. Your great country has an obligation, in our view, to uphold democratic principles despite whatever provocation might seem to exist. Without such freedoms, a tyranny can exist.

These events took place at a time when two additional events came to light: Pakistani airport officials in Lahore refused entry to Harider Baweja , an Indian journalist with Tehelka, the independent weekly newspaper, despite her possession of a seven-day visa; Pakistani police arrested and secretly imprisoned three European film-makers before expelling them after 16 days. These actions are deeply disturbing and beneath the dignity of the great people of Pakistan .

We urge you most respectfully to make a public statement re-affirming the rights of Pakistani journalists and those engaged in reporting events in Pakistan to report and publish without interference. And we would appreciate it if you would share this letter with your Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mian Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, and with the Attorney General, Makhdoom Ali Khan.

Respectfully yours,
John Martin
Norman Schorr
Freedom of the Press Committee



Jehangir Karamat

Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistn

3517 International Court, NW

Washington , DC 20008

Fax: (202) 666-1465



Ambassador Munir Akram

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

to the United Nations

8 East 65th Street

New York , NY 10021

Fax: (212) 744-7348



Ryan C. Crocker

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan

Embassy of the United States of America

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5



Fax: ( 27-64-27