Stories about journalists

We’re celebrating the 250th Press Freedom Day but is the Pakistani media really free?

You know, therefore you are. And we know because of the press. Be it print or broadcast, media is what keeps you updated. It provides us with information because it is our right to know, and it is the press’ right to relay that information. The press, or a more relevant term today might be the media (that includes products of both print as well as broadcast and digital journalism) relay that information to you. But, if you are a Pakistani and have never been a part of the media, never seen the workings of a newsroom and have never been a ...

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Targeting beyond China: They took my family into custody to intimidate me

On March 27, Chinese police crashed my father’s 70th birthday party in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province. They accused my family of causing a forest fire the day before by lighting incense and burning paper as part of the annual tomb-sweeping festival to honour deceased relatives. Three of my siblings were summoned to the police station and found out quickly that they were not being detained over an arson charge. As an exiled Chinese journalist living in Germany, I had written an article in mid-March for Deutsche Welle criticising the Chinese government for “secretly kidnapping” a journalist, Jia Jia, in connection with a widely distributed open ...

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Why isn’t the #OregonStandoff being called terrorism? Because it’s not

Last year, when I wrote about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims for The Express Tribune Blogs, I revisited the definition of terrorism because the term is oft misused. Use of corrupted words relates to poor journalism and exhibit one is how the coverage of domestic controversy in the United States lacks rigid examination of facts, a fair analysis of both sides and proper context. This is not only unique to underground blogs, but endemic in mainstream media as well, where the focus excessively becomes about the race and religion of those involved. While identity is important, it’s as important to adhere to a standard of objectivity ...

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2170 days

It was a cold sunny morning, in March 2010, when I was given the opportunity to work with a young dynamic team that would be a part of an upcoming newspaper. We, as a small team at our Islamabad office, had started telling people that we were working for The Express Tribune, a paper affiliated with the New York Times, to be launched in a couple of months. “We don’t know what newspaper you guys are talking about,” almost everybody responded. “We will talk to you when this paper actually launches.” To our horror, most of the people we called slammed their phones on ...

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Dear (ir)responsible Pakistani media, the Mina tragedy needed sensitivity not sensationalism

The tragic stampede in Mina during the recent Hajj and the way it was covered by the media, mainstream as well as social, once again revealed all that is wrong in the way journalism is practiced in Pakistan. Media stirred the pot with the ingredients of sensationalism, conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation and deliberate biases. This was all based on a historical baggage, and the offering served was such a mish-mash that it became difficult to sift fact from fiction. Yes, it was a developing story. In fact, it was not just a ‘story’, but it was a tragic human event that demanded sensitive handling, ...

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Yes, I am a cybercriminal

While trying to decipher governing policies of the world, I find that western countries are edging more towards moderation and tolerance while Muslim countries, on the other hand, are becoming more narrow-minded and intolerant. Pakistan has jumped onto the bandwagon of intolerance with the induction of its new cybercrime bill. In spite of various objections, criticisms, and numerous online and offline protests, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Technology forcefully approved the final draft of the cybercrime bill 2015, without making any amendments, and has sent it to the National Assembly for approval. The use of the word ‘forceful’ is due ...

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Dear Humans Of Pakistan, don’t make up fake stories, please!

One week after Humans Of New York (HONY) completed their series on Pakistan, Humans Of Pakistan (HOP) published a photograph of a woman named Sarah* sitting with her two young boys. As per Sarah’s narrative, her husband had left for a job offer abroad, two years after their marriage while she was expecting her first child. He left them for five years and came to see her and the children only twice, that even on her insistence. Eventually, Sarah learnt that her husband had remarried and no longer intended to come back or financially support her or their children. Hence, she decided to stand ...

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Dear Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan, Reham Bhabi and Ayyan Ali – Hi!

Open letters are the new ‘in’ thing. Everyone, while not busy taking selfies or engaging in internet wars, is writing them. Unlike personal letters that are addressed to and only read by the person intended, these have a universal appeal. Hence, I decided to write a few of my own, a series of them in fact. Here is the first one: To Hamza Ali Abbasi from an Online Jihadi. Hazrat Hamza Ali Abbasi Sahib, My heart sank when I saw the trailer of your upcoming movie, Jawani Phir Nahin Ani. And it sank even further to the bottom of the very pool you were seen ...

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Punjab is Pakistan and Pakistan is Punjab

As 83 mutilated corpses are found in Balochistan, I further lose hope in our crumbling system and the state. A state which has failed its citizens over and over again.  Every man with an empty head and fickle mind is trying to formulate his own creed and ideology. It is tantamount to saying, in the presence of various man-made beliefs, that it is hard to follow one ideology with zeal and enthusiasm. The case of Pakistan is verily the same. In Pakistan, people are blind followers of false narratives, whether enforced by the mighty army or by the corrupt and incompetent politicians. I pity the ...

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Yes of course, Dr Hunt, your remarks about women in labs were not sexist at all!

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields have always been ruled by men. However, there have been women like Marie Curie, Ada Byron, Rosalind Franklin, Sally Ride and Maryam Mirzakhani, who have proved that women are just as talented as the opposite gender. Yet, the mind-set that women are not professional enough for these fields prevails even today. A Nobel laureate, Dr Tim Hunt, recently commented at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul that, “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls; three things happen when they are in the lab; you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they ...

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