14 June, 2021

The Pen Is Mightier...

Pakistan's press is certainly freer than before though it labours under the shadow of the government.

The Pen Is Mightier...

NAWAZ Sharif has never liked the press. He once said  newspapers only cause trouble. When he was prime minister the last time (1990-93), he had a short fuse and gave the press a hard time. Numerous cases of vandalism by ruling party thugs against newspapers and journalists were reported across the country. Takbeer magazine's offices in Karachi were burnt down. A sedition case was lodged against the editor of The News in Islamabad for publishing a poem in the letters column which Sharif didn't like. And so on.

I had a particularly nasty experience in 1992-93 because, apart from the investigative stories of corruption in government, Sharif didn't warm to a weekly satirical column about him in my paper. Armed thugs were sent to rough me up but I escaped their clutches. I was advised my safety couldn't be guaranteed  if some ruling party loyalists decided to bomb my office. Income tax notices flew thick and fast. Anonymous phone-callers abused my wife and threatened rape and kidnapping. My paper survived only because Sharif was booted out of power a couple of months later.


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