Provinces told to halt unregistered publications

Updated June 06, 2020

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Deputy commissioners directed to seal premises of printing presses, news agencies. — EOS/File
Deputy commissioners directed to seal premises of printing presses, news agencies. — EOS/File

ISLAMABAD: After de-notifying more than 6,000 publications across the country recently, the press registrar of the information ministry has written letters to the provinces to stop functioning of all unregistered publications, printing presses and news agencies.

At the same time, titles of all publications — annual, bi-annual, monthlies, weeklies, fortnightlies, dailies, etc — which have not published after receiving the NOCs, too, have been cancelled.

A ministry official told Dawn that there was a general trend in the country that people obtained title of any publication and held it either for selling it later or for any other purpose.

“Now all publications not being printed have been cancelled,” the official said.

Deputy commissioners directed to seal premises of printing presses, news agencies

Apart from owners of publications, printing presses and news agencies, the press registrar has also written letters to all chief secretaries of provincial governments, all commissioners and deputy commissioners and the officials concerned of Islamabad (ICT), Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure compliance with the directive.

The press registrar, Naila Maqsood, has directed all the deputy commissioners to seal premises of unregistered printing presses, publications and news agencies.

These included all printing presses even if they were printing any other material like Eid, wedding or other cards, etc.

Currently, only 23 requests for registration have been received at the information ministry from printing presses across the country.

Meanwhile, a senior official of the interior ministry said that the directives could only be implemented at printing presses operating in markets.

“The main purpose of this initiative was to streamline informal publications such as pamphlets and other unverified materials containing blasphemous, sectarian, jihadi or anti-state content, etc,” the official said.

“But we have some printing presses in unusual locations, like Jamia Hafsa in G-7, Islamabad, where various lectures and thoughts of Maulana Abdul Aziz over various subjects are printed and sealing of that printing press will not be easy,” the official said.

Under the Press, Newspaper, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002, the subject has not been devolved to the provinces and the federal law in this regard still applies across the country.

Under the law, all printing presses across the country have to obtain a declaration from relevant deputy commissioners and based on that declaration a certificate will be issued by the office of Press Registrar.

“Now all printing presses not having this certificate will be sealed by relevant deputy commissioners,” said the official of the information ministry.

On the other hand, the online registration system has yet to become operational and sources in the information ministry said that they had received complaints from several parts of the country in this regard.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020