ON Tuesday, the Lahore Development Authority sealed the Lahore office of the South Asian Free Media Association, a non-profit that promotes media networking in South Asia for regional peace. The LDA claims it had acted on the complaints of some inhabitants of the locality who had approached the court several years back, requesting it to direct the government to stop Safma’s ‘commercial activities’ in the residential area. We must ask to what extent can running a library and a school for teaching journalists the media code of ethics be classified as a commercial activity. Especially when the LDA has not taken action against those in other residential areas of the city who are seen as ‘causing disturbance to the people’ living there. The LDA should have come up with a better explanation for its sudden action as the case, according to Safma officials, is still with the Lahore High Court pending a final decision.

The action against Safma comes at a time when different media outlets, journalists and local and international rights groups are complaining of increasing pressure on the media and restrictions on free speech in Pakistan. It is no secret that a few Safma officials have been vocal in raising their concerns over this growing pressure on major media outlets to toe a particular line and they have questioned the fairness of the July elections. At a news conference immediately after its office was sealed, a top Safma official alleged that the association had long been targeted by the government. The haste shown by the LDA in sealing the Safma office in this situation has raised many an eyebrow, lending credence to allegations that the organisation is being punished for its stance on the freedom of expression and the quality of the elections. The LDA would do well to unseal the Safma office forthwith and sit down with its officials to settle the issue if the organisation’s activities are actually causing problems for neighbourhood residents.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2018

Opinion

Civil liberties
23 Oct 2021

Civil liberties

The late I.A. Rehman is esteemed on both sides of the border.
The Hamza factor
Updated 23 Oct 2021

The Hamza factor

A new story is quietly unfolding inside the PML-N and there may yet be a surprise twist.
What should Imran Khan do?
Updated 23 Oct 2021

What should Imran Khan do?

Making a mishmash of religion and politics won’t turn Pakistan into a welfare state. Here’s what can.
Afghan health crises
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Afghan health crises

The condition and prospects of Afghanistan’s health sector are complex and grave.

Editorial

A final push
Updated 23 Oct 2021

A final push

PAKISTAN’S hopes of exiting the so-called FATF grey list have been shattered once again. The global money...
23 Oct 2021

Kabul visit

FOREIGN MINISTER Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s flying visit to Kabul on Thursday is the first official high-level...
23 Oct 2021

Baqir’s blooper

THE remarks made by State Bank governor Reza Baqir at a London press conference have hit a raw nerve in Pakistan. In...
Spate of attacks
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Spate of attacks

Following a near-constant decline since 2016, the year 2021 has witnessed a precipitous rise in violence-related fatalities in KP.
22 Oct 2021

Libel suits

THE outcome of two libel cases recently decided by courts in England should be edifying for the government — if it...
22 Oct 2021

Education losses

A NEW report on the education losses suffered by Pakistani children due to pandemic-induced school closures sheds...