English daily’s circulation being ‘disrupted’: Pakistan

Dawn, country’s largest English newspaper, claims hawkers and sales agents being subjected to ‘continued harassment’
KARACHI, Pakistan: Pakistan’s largest English daily, Dawn, on Wednesday claimed that its distribution is being disrupted continuously across the country for the past one month.
In a statement, the daily Dawn’s management said “hawkers and sales agents were being subjected to continued harassment, threats and physical coercion, while attempting to deliver copies of the newspaper to its subscribers.”
The allegation coincides with recent media watchdog reports about “plunging” state of press freedom in the country.
“Newspaper vans and hawkers, distributing copies of Dawn, have already been denied entry to many cantonment areas for the past several months. Since the middle of May, however, officials posted in several cities and towns in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan are disallowing the distribution of Dawn to even civilians residing in several areas,” the statement said in a thinly-veiled reference to the country’s powerful army.
In May, the newspaper published an interview of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which he accused the state of Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the militants involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed over 150 people.
India had accused Pakistan’s intelligence agencies of planning and executing the terrorist attacks, a charge Islamabad categorically denied.
“We call upon the caretaker Prime Minister retired Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take strong notice without any further delay of this hostile situation”, the English daily said.
Dawn had also come under fire in October 2016 when it reported that the government of premier Sharif, during a high-level security meeting, had warned the army to “act against militancy or face international isolation”.
The whistleblower story had angered the army, which blasted it as “against national security,” and accused some government ministers and officials of leaking misleading and incorrect information to the reporter.
Sharif had denied his government’s involvement in the leak but sacked his Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed for not “acting” accordingly to handle the situation.
Apart from Dawn, the country’s popular news channel Geo News also remained off air for several weeks in recent months for its alleged anti-army, and pro-Sharif reporting.
National and international media watchdogs, including Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and the International Press Institute (IPI), have expressed their concerns over recent “coercive” measures to curtail freedom of press in Pakistan.
In a letter to the Pakistani government earlier this week, the IPI’s executive director, Barbara Trionfi, alleged that threats, intimidation, and other tactics were being used to force the editors to drop dissenting columns.
Also, the IPI alleged, similar tactics were being used against cable operators, forcing them to take off air the unwanted news channels.–AA

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