Pakistan’s Publishers body condemns cancellation of licenses of two newspapers

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The administration of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, cancelled the publication licenses or ‘declarations’ of Urdu the dailies “Sahafat” and “Dopahr” on October 20, 2017. Khushnood Ali Khan, editor in chief of both newspapers, said the order was given when he submitted a request to upgrade his printing press and to change the printers. When he did not receive a response from the Islamabad administration, Khan said he wrote a letter to the deputy commissioner Islamabad.

According to the notification issued by the office of the District Magistrate of the Islamabad Capital Territory the newspapers were ordered cease publication following complaints that it was not being published.The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has expressed grave concern over the cancellation and termed this action as an attack on freedom of expression.

In its statement issued on October 24, 2017 APNS President Sarmad Ali and Secretary General Umer Mujib Shami said that the Islamabad administration has cancelled the declarations of the Islamabad-based dailies without any prior notice as required under the law. The statement added that these publications were exposing the malpractices of the Islamabad Administration which annoyed the Magistrates office and to strangle the voices of dissent, the declarations of publications have been cancelled.

APNS office urged the Prime Minister, the Minister of State for Information and Secretary Information to take immediate action against the concerned authorities and make sure that the declarations are restored immediately and ensure that no such action would be taken against the freedom of expression in future.

In another resolution issued on October 26, 2017 the Executive Committee of strongly condemned the high-handed-ness of the Islamabad administration which has grossly violated the provisions of the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance 2002 and cancelled the declarations without any prior notice.

The Executive Committee said it considered the action as a signal to the print media that Federal Government has chosen a path to strangulate the media by negating all democratic norms. The Executive Committee termed such acts as attack on freedom of expression and reiterated that the print media would brave the situation and safeguard its rights, it earned after a long and protracted struggle.

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