Media in Zia-ul-Haq Regime - [PPTX Powerpoint] (2024)

Media in Zia-ul-Haq Regime - [PPTX Powerpoint] (1)

MEDIA IN ZIA-UL-HAQ REGIMEPresented By: Rao Tahir and Muhammad Usama


Media in Zia-ul-Haq Regime - [PPTX Powerpoint] (2)


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Zia-ul-Haq period was worst for press freedom in Pakistan

Major Event:

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Press Freedom:

The repression of journalists started with the imposition of ban on the publication of theDaily Musawaat(Urdu: مساوات "Equity"). In response to the ban thePakistan Federal Union of Journalistscame out openly against the regime. After the failure of efforts to convince the Martial Law authorities to lift the ban, the PFUJ launched a campaign of hunger strike in Karachi from December 1, 1977. The strike was a surprising success, as journalists and press workers from all over the country participated, and within eight days the government lifted the ban. Unchastened the government rebounded from this setback by banning other periodicals: the dailyMusawaatin Lahore, and weeklies includingAl-FatahandMeyar, all of which were critical of the Martial Law regime.After negotiations failed, journalists and press workers launched another hunger strike in Lahore from April 30 to May 30, 1978. To break the strike, hunger strikers were arrested and sentenced under Martial Law Regulations for six months to one year rigorous imprisonment. Three—Khawar Naeem, Iqbal Jaferi Hashimi and Nasir Zaidi—were flogged, while a fourth, Masoodullah Khan, was spared on the intervention of the doctor. Full publicity in official media was given to a break-away, pro-government PFUJ (created by four PFUJ members and known as the "Rashid Siddiqui Group"), who condemning the strike.In October 1978, along with banning all political parties and meetings, rigid censorship was established. Editors of "defamatory" publications were subject to punishment of ten lashes and 25 years of imprisonment.In January 1982, direct government censorship was ended and editors no longer had to submit stories to Government censors before publication. However, the Government continued to ban press/media coverage of political activity, "which, according to some reporters here, merely shifted the burden of responsibility to editors, making them more vulnerable and therefore more timid."Ten senior journalists and office-bearers of the PFUJ belonging to the National Press Trust newspapers - Pakistan Times, Imroze and Mashriq - were summarily removed from service because they signed an appeal for “Peace in Sindh“ calling for an end to government repression during the 1983 MRD campaign.

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A new reign of censorship was thus unleashed, with the government now actively involved in what was being printed and what was not. Provincial governments were asked to enforce the pre-publication censorship through their administrations. On Oct 17, 1979, the Sindh government went ahead with slapping a ban on the publication of two newspapers from Karachi, Daily Musawat and Daily Sadaqat.

Banned Newspapers

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Economy and the Press

The relationship of economy is directly proportional to the media development, meaning by, increased economic development leads to increased media development which results in less stress and government control of the press

The population of the country was about 75.5 millions in 1977 which reached 108.7 millions in 1989 making it the ninth largest country of the world (Ahmad, 1993, p.165). The per capita income when the military government took over was Rs.2,165 with annual growth rate of 3.1%. Such a dismal growth rate in per capita income ranked Pakistan very low on the index of developing nations (Ibid). The GNP crawled to US$380 in 1985 from US$350 in 1981 (Daily The Nation, Lahore, June 29, 1988; Daily The Nation, Lahore, March 18, 1988). There was an increase of only US$6 per year in the GNP, which depicts the level of remorse economic development in the first seven years of the military regime.

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The Nation’s Jihadi Propoganda

The Nationhas long held onto the Nazariya-e-Pakistan philosophy of the Zia years, Majid Nizami even going so far as to brag inhis official biography that “General Zia-ul-Haq recommended him as a nominee to the Shura”. (It should be noted that Nizami incorrectly says that the Shura was the parliament, when in all actuality it was Zia’s hand-picked group of advisors.) ButThe Nationof 16 February was like a time capsule left over from the Zia era and shows that sections of the media remain more focused on ideology than news.

In Wednesday’s newspaper,The Nation‘s Opinion page was dominated bya piece by the late Brigadier General S.K. Malik– a favourite of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq’s and the author of jihadi field manual,The Quranic Concept of War. Most Opinion articles are used to explain or analyse current events. The Brig (R) Malik piece published byThe Nation, “Holy Prophet’s Defence Policy” was noticeable because it does not appear to address any specific current issue. But this piece of Zia-era propaganda did not appear in a vacuum. Rather it appeared on the same page as two editorials that were over-the-top in their bald face anti-India stance.

Thefirst editorialabout Law Minister Babar Awan’s statement against the arrest of Rahat Fateh Ali goes beyond what the Law Minister said and claims that the arrest shows that India is “inimically opposed to the very existence of Pakistan and to Pakistanis”.Nawa-i-Waqteven takes a direct swipe at competitor media groupJang Groupby saying, “those who propounded the Aman ki Asha had carried out Aman ki Nirasha”. This editorial quotes from Law Minister Babar Awan’s own statement to media on the subject from Monday, but it is expanded on his statement by even criticising Awan for not taking “the same position with the elements in government who are eager to engage in a dialogue with India”.The Nationuses the arrest of Fatah Ali Khan to request the government to cease talks with India until Kashmir is settled, even though these are unrelated issues.

This was followed bya second editorialthat again refers to “New Delhi’s deadly machinations on our soil”. Most irresponsibly,The Nationeven goes as far as threatening ‘nuclear clouds’ if India does not settle the Kashmir issue ‘as early as possible’.The next page which claims the headline of ‘Analysis’ includes two pieces by General (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beg and S.M. Hali which are virulentlyanti-Americanandanti-Britishin their content by claiming that these Western countries are anti-Muslim in their policies. In the case of Gen (R) Beg’s column it also takes the tone of pro-Islamist sympathies and supporting Zia-era policies of propping up a puppet Islamist regime in Kabul as a policy of ‘strategic depth’.

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A leaf from History:

Pakistan had experienced press censorship many times before, but General Ziaul Haq’s tenure was a cut above. On Oct 15, 1979, Gen Zia began clamping down on the news media, after he began feeling that newspapers were gaining liberty to the extent that they had begun criticism over his continued rule. In comparison, the colonial masters’ Press Gagging Act-1857 seemed benign.

Every publication centre soon adopted its own mechanism to comply with the new directives. The most accepted mode was that at a certain cut-off time, the pages that were ready to go into print were physically taken to the information department, where designated officers used to check every piece being printed. These could be news items, feature stories, opinion articles or even pictures. Contents were quickly examined and if found proper, the pages were approved and signed.

During the struggle for press freedom, a number of journalists were arrested and prosecuted under Martial Law regulations. Eleven journalists were sentenced by the military courts on May 13, 1978.“It was all about controlling perception: Gen Zia’s new wave of censorship stifles any and all criticism of the government”

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Ahfaz-ur-Rahman(Urdu: الرحٰمن is a ,(born 4 April 1942) ( احفاظPakistanijournalist,writerandpoet. He has struggled for thefreedom of the pressand for the rights of working journalists and other media workers, and raised his voice both against the numerous dictatorial Pakistani regimes and the corporate media houses who refuse to give the journalists and other workers of the press industry their due. it was not surprising that he came up as a student leader of the left-wing student organisation,National Students Federation(NSF) and took part in 1962 and 1964 student upsurges against GeneralAyub Khan's regime with zeal.

Activism:Rahman began his activism a new upon returning to Pakistan from China at the end of 1972. During the historic journalist movement againstZia-ul-Haq's regime in 1977–78, Rahman went underground and organised that movement and had to escape arrest during that period. The movement had started in 1977, when the Daily Musawaat, Karachi, a newspaper withPakistan Peoples Party(PPP) leanings, was banned by General Zia's government.During the Zia ul Haq regime, from December 1977 to July 1978, Rahman organised the movement for the freedom of the press.On December 1977, journalists form all over the country came toKarachito offer court arrest in batches. Rahman was the first journalist to be arrested in the first batch. And from 30 April 1978 to 30 May 1978 More than 120 journalists who came from various cities to court arrest inLahore were arrested and sent to different jails of thePunjabprovince. Rahman was again among the first to be arrested and sent to Camp Jail. Later he was taken out of the jail and debarred from the Punjab province for six months. In July 1978 journalists form all corners came to Karachi for court arrest and were sent to different jails of the Sindh province. In the meantime, Rahman went underground to organise batches consisting of journalists, workers, peasants and student volunteers for court arrest.

After the movement ended, Rahman was blacklisted by all major newspapers and magazines, as a result he faced economic difficulties due to a long period of unemployment.

Bibliography:1: Zinda Hai Zindagi, a collection of poems.2: Sab Say Bari Jang: A book about 1977-78 movement for Press Freedom.

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Journalist were prosecuted under Martial Law regulations No 5 and No 33 for organising meetings at an open place, raising slogans, displaying banners and starting hunger strike. For the first time in the subcontinent’s history, four journalists — Masudullah Khan, Iqbal Jafri, Khawar Naeem Hashmi and Nisar Zaidi — also received lashings.

In the case of defamation, bars to publication were brought through an ordinance that amended sections 499 and 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Compared to past modes of press gagging, this ordinance said that with the exception of court proceedings reportage, the publication of defamatory matter against any person, even if it was true and in public interest, would constitute a cognisable and compoundable offence punishable with five years rigorous imprisonment or with fine or both.

A new section, 502, was also added to the PPC, under which a person could be punished for the sale of material carrying defamatory articles. The interesting part is that while these laws were promulgated with the purpose of taming the media, they were also used as leverage in newsprint and government advertisem*nts.

For Press

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Press censorship continued but radio and television emerged as the more affected sections of media. Besides general censorship, the government was quite particular in changing the formats of broadcast media content. The subjects of general discussion were changed; only those segments were allowed to be aired which had authority-friendly messages.

All male participants were asked to wear sherwanis while all female newscasters and participants in discussions were asked to wear dopattas, else they would not be allowed to appear on screen.Script editors were asked to strictly check the scripts of those plays and discussions that communicated a message of liberalism. Since there was only one television network (PTV), every programme was planned very carefully. More religious programmes were put on the air, replacing drama serials and other entertainment programmes.

At least one programme from Karachi Television created a stir in society as a result of these measures, and that too on the issue of the presenter’s appearance.

Mahtab Rashdi, a university teacher at the time, would host a programme named Apni Baat, one that was based on viewers’ letters. One day, when she reached the PTV Centre in Karachi to record her show, the general manager of the station informed her to don a dupatta. Mahtab flatly refused, taunting the management that now Gen Zia was going to tell her how she should appear.

The debate gained traction from across the country. The GM appeared cornered, but Mahtab refused to oblige. There wasn’t much the GM could do either.

For Broadcast


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Women Action Forum (WAF) was formed in 1981 to strengthen women's position in Pakistani society. In Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, a group of women agreed to formulate the policy statements and engage in political action to safeguard women's legal position, especially with reference to Hadood Laws promulgated by General Zia-ul-Haq.

Beginning of Women Activism

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Thank You

Media in Zia-ul-Haq Regime - [PPTX Powerpoint] (2024)


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