A new book written by prominent Pakistani journalist and analyst Sohail Warraich was removed from various bookstores in the country after some government institutions objected to its cover, he told BBC Urdu Tuesday.
Warraich’s book Yeh Company Nahi Chale Gi (this company won’t run) is a compilation of his already published columns in Urdu-language newspaper Jang and on BBC Urdu’s website. The book had a cartoon of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on its cover.
The cartoon on the cover showed General Bajwa sitting in a chair and PM Khan sitting in his feet. The leaders of the opposition Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maryam Nawaz were shown trying to look into the room from a window.
“These columns are already published, it’s a compilation,” Warraich said. “It’s the title that they have reservations on.”
Warraich told BBC Urdu that he was approached yesterday and told the cartoon on the book’s cover “belittles the prime minister”. The analyst, however, didn’t disclose who he was approached by.
“As far as I know, the contents are the same as the already published columns,” Warraich was quoted as saying. “As I came to know, some quarters have reservations regarding the title [of the book].
“Obviously, these cartoons are made in a light mood. And they are seen in a light tone. Despite this, when I was being asked till late at night by my friends and my group, we deleted it from my twitter.”
The analyst said that they will change the cover of the book but he didn’t think there was anything objectionable in it.
Pakistan’s media industry has seen one of the worst crises in the past few years. Hundreds of media workers have lost their jobs due to a financial meltdown and many others moved to digital media platforms to continue their work.
PM Khan has said in the past that the country’s media is even “freer” than that of the UK’s. But there are several examples that tell an entirely different story of the state of media freedom in the country.
At least three Pakistani journalists in Karachi and Islamabad were booked in cases for their criticism of the Pakistani institutions. Journalist Bilal Farooqi was arrested in Karachi on Friday after a machine operator in a factory lodged an FIR against him for “defaming” the Pakistan Army.
Former PEMRA chairman Absar Alam and Islamabad-based journalist Asad Ali Toor have been booked in similar cases.
In July, prominent Pakistani journalist Matiullah Jan, a known critic of PM Khan who now does his shows on YouTube after losing his job, was abducted from outside his wife’s school in Islamabad. His kidnapping was recorded on a CCTV camera installed outside the school.
The CCTV video showed multiple vehicles stopping near his car and men in plainclothes and black police uniforms dragging him out and forcing into another vehicle.
Matiullah was released 12 hours after his abduction in a deserted area in Fateh Jang. Despite the presence of video evidence, his abductors have yet to be identified.