Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) has revealed that the Government of Pakistan has blocked the further publication of the Dawn, one of the country’s leading English dailies, for publishing a controversial interview that it did with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It maybe recalled that in that interview last week, Sharif had acknowledged that the terror attacks launched on Mumbai between November 26 and November 29, 2008, were carried out by Pakistan-born terrorists.
That remark created ripples in the Pakistan’s political, civilian government, military and intelligence establishnents, so much so, that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has had to preside over two National Security Council (NSC) meetings in the last couple of days to review its impact and the response to be taken thereof.
According to a report by the RSF, the ‘temporary ban’ came into effect from Tuesday, after the Pakistani military forces were reportedly unhappy with the newspaper’s publishing of the interview.
The RSF reported that Dawn’s circulation has been disrupted in most parts of Balochistan province, major cities in Sindh province and in all military cantonments.
The Press Council of Pakistan has notified Dawn’s editor that the newspaper breached the ethical code of practice by publishing content that “may bring into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its sovereignty or integrity as an independent country.”
“The unwarranted blocking of the distribution of one of the main independent newspapers has yet again shown that the military are determined to maintain their grip on access to news and information in Pakistan,” RSF said in a statement.
“It is clear that the military high command does not want to allow a democratic debate in the months preceding a general election. We call on the authorities to stop interfering in the dissemination of independent media and to restore distribution of Dawn throughout Pakistan,” it added.
Sharif’s remarks were immediately picked up by Indian media, which termed the former prime minister’s statement as a confession of Pakistan’s role in the Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.