Major Pakistan newspaper under government pressure

The publisher Dawn Group has been under increasing pressure from the government to stop negative coverage of events happening on the troubled Pakistan-Afghanistan border as well as recent events in the troubled province of Balochistan.

A series of emails written last week by Hameed Haroon, the managing CEO of Dawn Goup and Pakistan’s biggest English language newspaper, the Dawn, have been circulated over the Internet. The emails allege that the government is depriving the newspaper of advertising revenue as a means of placing increasing pressure on it.

Mr. Haroon wrote, “It has always been difficult for governments to coexist with a free and independent press in Pakistan. Of late, however, the government headed by President Musharraf has become increasingly intolerant towards criticism in the press and towards the publishing of news that reflects poorly on the performance of his government on security matters.” according to AsiansInMedia.org.

The allegations came recently after the offices of the Geo TV network and its affilates, a media group unrelated to Dawn Group, were stormed by Islamabad police while the network was airing live video coverage of unrest caused by the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf has denied his government is targeting the media, and in the controversy sparked by the revelations insisted that he supports press freedom. “I granted freedom which the (Pakistani) media enjoys today,” he said in a speech delivered Saturday in Pakpattan.

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