ISLAMABAD – Hameed Haroon, Chief Executive Officer of Dawn Group of Publication, said that Pakistani media was facing the worst kind of intimidation at the hands of ‘deep state’ which would not good for the future of democratic institutions in the country.
Talking in the BBC Hardtalk programme, Hameed Haroon, who is also President of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), said that media houses were under tremendous pressure and in the past three months things have worsen, claiming the main target were the largest media houses, including Jang, Dawn and Nawa-i-Waqt groups.
When asked who was behind all this, Hameed Haroon said that there was a strong perception that military was behind all this and Committee for Protection of Journalists(CJP), Reporters Without Frontiers and International Press Institute all shared this view.
To a question about what sort of problems the media houses were facing, he said that primarily there was a massive intervention in the distribution of newspapers as well as blocking of television broadcast. He said that a large number of Dawn’s readers could not get the newspaper due to these interventions. He further said that in Larkana alone the readers could not see Dawn newspaper for more than two-and –a-half-months.
Hameed Haroon said that being the President of APNS, he has to guard and take care of the rights of over 400 newspapers and journals.
To a question, he said there was a public perception and human rights bodies also considered that military was behind all this and the ways media people and bloggers were made disappear with impunity gave credence to it.
He said that when all this was going on unnoticed they have asked international rights bodies, government, Chief of Army Staff, Caretaker Prime Minister to look into the matter and take action on these forced disappearances and threats to media persons.
Hamid Haroon admitted that there was a lot of pressure on media houses to downplay the Pashtoon Movement and when asked whether the journalists working in his media house were also facing similar pressure, he said that though the Editor and the Editorial Board was free to decide on such issues.
Referring to Dawn leaks saga, Hameed Haroon said actually the information about the two security-related meetings were secured from an international source and they had just verified it from the local sources. He admitted that they faced pressure from the military establishment on the issue.
To another question, Hameed Haroon spoke high of the military’s role in containing the growing menace of terrorism in the country but was critical of military’s meddling in the other affairs of the statecraft.
To a question about the upcoming elections, Hameed Haroon said that it was not the matter of rigging on polling day as he considered the arrangements for the polling day are good but the real matter of concern is the pre-polls rigging and galvanising some political forces ahead of the elections.
In his concluding remarks, Hameed Haroon said that he would stand up for the freedom of institutions.