The fifty commandments under Zia

Updated 05 Jan 2018

Email

In the turbulent years (1980-81) over 400 ‘Thou shalt nots ….’ plagued the press, a selection of 50 appears below:

Illustration by Reem Khurshid
Illustration by Reem Khurshid

01, March 11, 1980: A news agency report saying ‘Gen Zia has crushed an attempted coup and arrested 26 army officers involved’, should not be published.

02, June 10, 1980: No criticism of Zakat and Usher Ordinance announced by Gen Zia.

03, Aug 3, 1980: A court verdict on Bohra Dai’s (spiritual leader) petition can’t be published.

04, Aug 3, 1980: Resignation by Islamic Council members. Not to be published.

05, Aug 3, 1980: Political parties have decided to take direct action. Story stands killed.

06, Aug 4, 1980: ‘People rely on BBC’. Zia’s reference during his talk with the Press is to be deleted.

07, Aug 9, 1980: Qadianis are exempted from Zakat. Report should not be published.

08, Aug 9, 1980: No news of protest by Iranian students outside the US consulates in Karachi and Rawalpindi is to be published.

09, Aug 9, 1980: No political speeches delivered at Iftar parties are to be published.

10, Aug 11, 1980: Nazir Abbasi, a student leader, died in prison. Only take a filler [one paragraph] or with a small headline.

11, Aug 21, 1980: An appeal to observe protest against riots in India. It should not be taken.

12, Aug 22, 1980: President Zia said that members of the newly constituted Ulema Board will have wider powers than federal ministers. Please delete this portion.

13, Sept 2, 1980: A trainer plane of the Pakistan Army crashed at the Lahore Airport killing the pilot and a Wing Commander. News stands killed.

14, Sept 10, 1980: A smugglers’ gang has been arrested in Lahore whose leader is an ex-army man. Kill the story.

15, Sept 10, 1980: Fresh mob raid on Pakistan Embassy in Delhi; kill APP story.

16, Sept 15, 1980: Baloch leaders’ return from the hills to be highlighted.

17, Sept 15, 1980: Play up the story of today’s Mashaikh conference.

18, Nov 16, 1980: Report of S M Zafar’s petition in the Lahore High Court against censorship of his book should not be published.

19, Nov 20, 1980: No mention of Kashmir in the CMLA’s answers to newsmen in Quetta.

20, Dec 19, 1980: All handouts on military court sentences, floggings, must be published regularly.

21, Feb 10, 1981: Student politics at the Karachi campus. No coverage.

22, Feb 11, 1981: Assault on a US lady diplomat in Pindi. No report is to be taken.

23, March 3, 1981: PIA hijacking: at most second lead; only APP version; no comments.

24, March 22, 1981: Two buses were set on fire in Karachi. Kill the story.

25, March 22, 1981: Fifteen Ulema have jointly criticised the Shariat Court judgment on Rajm and Zina. Kill the story.

26, March 30, 1981: No coverage of any political activity.

27, April 18, 1981: Reports say after drinking Haleji Lake water some children fell ill and were hospitalised. Kill the story.

28, May 4, 1981: Flower-petals were showered on President Zia in Lahore by girl students. No news or picture.

29, May 5, 1981: Delete two passages from the President’s speech: a) Hukumat ke chamche, b) people are fed up with the old faces.

30, May 16, 1981: Certain cabinet ministers have been expelled by their parties. No report or comments.

May 23, 1981: No news about Khalistan is to be published.

32, June 7, 1981: A firing incident has occurred at a function addressed by the Information Minister. Kill the story.

33, June 10, 1981: Gen. Zia’s interview with BBC, in its Sairbeen programme, should not be published. (The General said he would ‘hold elections under a system suited to the temperament of the people’).

34, June 11, 1981: Hamid Baloch was hanged in Quetta Jail. Story stands killed.

35, June 25, 1981: Give prominent display to statements hailing the national budget.

36, June 28, 1981: No coverage of statement issued by some women’s associations.

37, Aug 4, 1981: Two Pakistani army officers reached Al-Zulfikar HQ in Kabul; one was killed, another escaped. Kill the story.

38, Aug 10, 1981: A report about breaches in Sukkur Barrage should not be published.

39, Aug 14, 1981: Photograph of Begum Zia can be published only with dupatta on.

40, Aug 18, 1981: Nasir Achkazai will be hanged on August 21. No coverage.

41, Aug 24, 1981: Afghan foreign minister, Shah Mohammad Dost, today renewed appeals to Pakistan and Iran to agree to direct talks with Kabul. Kill the story.

42, Aug 24, 1981: Punjab Finance Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement saying that liquor shops for non-Muslims would be opened throughout the country should not be published.

43, Aug 29, 1981: A military court at Khuzdar found some persons guilty of anti-national activities and plotting to murder government functionaries. They were sentenced to death, and hanged. This report should not be published.

44, Aug 31, 1981: A car of Sindh Governor House has met with an accident. The item should not go.

45, Sept 4, 1981: Defence Day supplement may be devoted to articles of a general nature about the activities of the armed forces, but not the 1965 war.

46, Sept 8, 1981: Sanam Bhutto’s marriage is not to be reported.

47, Sept 16, 1981: PPI’s story on Indira Gandhi’s interview: give good display.

48, Sept 24, 1981: An order from an Islamabad magistrate, banning entry in Islamabad of journalists’ leader, Minhaj Barna, for sixty days, should not be taken.

49, Sept 25, 1981: Ch. Zahur Elahi’s murder: only APP story is to be taken. Take Zia’s message also.

50, Nov 7, 1981: A students’ raid on the censor’s office in Karachi. The item should not be taken.


The random selection of Press Advices, reflective of the censorship during the Zia regime, has been made from Zamir Niazi’s book ‘The Web of Censorship’.


This story is part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of '70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Read the report here.