Friday, April 10, 2009

The Dawn Media Group & Violation of Journalist's Rights - 4

Daily Dawn was allegedly founded by the Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The CEO of Dawn group is Hameed Haroon, and the current editor of Dawn is Abbas Nasir, who is also looking after the Dawn News Channel [supposed to be a full time job], and how the hell it would be possible to look after two organizations at the same time!!

Hameed Haroon is Chief Executive Officer of The Dawn Media Group (DMG), Pakistan’s leading media conglomerate. The Group comprises Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Limited, the printers and publishers of DAWN newspaper and three leading magazines, Herald (current affairs) Spider (Information Technology) and Aurora (marketing and advertising); DawnNews Pakistan’s first and to-date only English language news channel; City FM89 radio and DAWN.COM-arguably Pakistan’s most visited news web portal. [Couurtesy: Wikipedia]

If that was not enough Mr. Hameed Haroon took an even more harsh step by writing an article in a Foreign News Paper:

May 11, 2007 COMMENTARY Sunset at DAWN? By HAMEED HAROON May 11, 2007; Page A11

A critical point has been missed in much of the reporting on recent unrest in Pakistan: The people protesting in the streets are liberals, not religious extremists. The "rainbow coalition" opposing President Pervez Musharraf's infringement of judicial independence is composed of lawyers' associations, journalists' unions and other mainstream groups striving to bring Pakistan under the rule of law. It's a marked departure from the post-9/11, pro-bin Laden marches by right-wing religious extremists. But what is the rest of the world going to do to support today's protesters?

Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is, "not much." Western countries have relied on Mr. Musharraf's authoritarian regime to help fight the war on terror. For the past three years, the influential English-language publication group I manage – which includes our flagship daily, DAWN, its sister the Star, and a newsmagazine, the Herald -- has been a victim of Mr. Musharraf's crackdown on the remnants of Pakistan's liberal, independent press. We have come
under fire precisely for exposing his failure to firm up the country's security situation. We have reported on the ongoing pattern of ad hoc deal-making between the Pakistani government and pro-Taliban militants along the Pakistan-Afghanista n border, not to mention the government's continued covert support for Kashmiri militants.

Matters came to a head in early autumn last year, when DAWN reported on leaked cease-fire agreements reached with pro-Taliban militants in the troubled western province of Balochistan. Senior officials from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting made a series of visits to newspaper offices and television channels throughout the country, demanding a blackout of additional reporting on security crackdowns in the troubled area. Newspapers were threatened with the total withdrawal of government advertising, which constitutes between one-third and one-half of all advertising revenues. (Government advertising in Pakistan includes commercial advertising by the public sector and by government ministries as well as regulatory notices issued by government departments and public utilities.)

DAWN was faced with the prospect of an overnight loss of approximately 15% of its advertising revenues. For the vernacular print media, losses could average anywhere between one-third and one-half of advertising revenues. For existing television news channels, the probable consequences of failure to comply are even grimmer:

A cancellation of temporary television uplinking permission, coupled with a boycott by government-regulate d cable operators, would result in permanent closure.

Add to this the specter of government levers deployed frequently against the press in the past -- such as the harassment of dissenting journalists, the cutoff of imported newsprint supplies and the cancellation of a newspaper's permission to publish under emergency public order laws -- and the vast majority of newspapers and TV channels concluded they had little choice but to comply with the government's requests, although we at DAWN have stood firm in the face of this intimidation.

Mr. Musharraf's government took the news of our reluctance badly. In late December, the volume of government advertising in DAWN suddenly declined by around two-thirds of its normal volume. Financial conditions within DAWN worsened when the television license for an upcoming news channel in English (which already had 350 journalists and technicians on its payroll) was turned down by the government regulatory authority for electronic media. This despite a landmark ruling by a superior court that earlier ordered the grant of a license to DAWN, and by implication to any affected newspaper that might apply to the court for relief. The government's regulatory authority and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had both consented in court to the grant of this license, and with the passage of 60 days have lost the right to appeal against this judgment. At first the government continued to prevent its officials from implementing the court's orders. Then a decision was made to issue DAWN a temporary uplink permission valid until the end of May, in lieu of a license.

Privately, senior officials in government advise us that the DAWN "matter" will soon be rectified by direct presidential intervention, given that the government has no legal options left to reverse the court's ruling. The argument runs thus: What Mr. Musharraf's government cannot withhold legally, it may as well grant gracefully. It is increasingly difficult, however, for us to accept private assurances when publicly the rule of law is more about words than action. Government machinations against us are steadily increasing the risk that my corporation could face an uncertain future before we receive a valid permanent license to which we are legally entitled. We are forced to spend money preparing to broadcast beyond May so that we are ready if and when such a license arrives. But if we aren't given our due soon, justice delayed will become justice denied.

And if we go, who will fill our shoes? Societies in this region are trapped in a vise between militant religious extremists on one hand and military-dominated authoritarian regimes on the other. Space for civil society has been reduced to a minimum.

We and others like us represent the ideals that supposedly animate the Western governments fighting the war on terror. Yet we are becoming collateral damage stemming from Western support for authoritarians like Mr. Musharraf.

Victory in the war on terror will depend in no small part on our ability to reshape the Middle East and Central Asia in a way that allows Western-style liberalism to triumph over religious extremism. Support for authoritarian regimes is at best an imperfect means to that end, but should never become the end in itself.

Whatever the level of Mr. Musharraf's cooperation in the short-term battles of the war on terror, he should not get a free pass for subverting the conditions -- like a free press -- that will ultimately sustain true democracy in Pakistan.

Mr. Haroon is the publisher of the DAWN group of newspapers in Pakistan.

URL for this article:

The most amazing thing is this that after all these years of boastful claims of Freedom of Press and leaseholding of Basic Human Rights, on 27 March, 2009, Mr Hameed Haroon at the behest of Editor Dawn Mr Abbas Nasir and Part TIME EXECUTIVE RATHER Hatchet Man of DAWN NEWS CHANNEL, sacked more than 70 employees in the name of reorganizing [Read Retrenchments and Iron Kick] the Dawn News Channel and this step is itself tantamount to Financial Murder and this is the step for which Hameed Haroon and Pseudo Leftists of Saadat-e-Amroha in Dawn Editorial Board hounded the several Civilian Government of 90s. Following is the list and names of Working Journalists/Technicians who have been summarily dismissed:

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