fifty years ago October 12, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (October 12, 1971): Pak wooing ejected foreign newsmen

Rawalpindi, October 11: Shocked by its image abroad and worried about votes against it at the United Nations, Pakistan is wooing some of the same foreign newsmen it ejected summarily from Dacca in March when the Army routed the Awami League and seized Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Spokesmen of the Ministry of Information here for the first time are promising regular briefings for foreign reporters. However, foreigners are still barred from weekly briefings conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs. Wooing does not extend to the domestic press. Although prepublication censorship of the local press has been lifted, news agencies and newspapers operate under a Martial Law regulation which amounts to virtually the same thing. The regulation forbids publishing material which “directly or indirectly” prejudices “the solidarity of Pakistan”, criticises the Martial Law regime, creates alarm, criticises President Yayha Khan, creates ill-will among the various groups of people in Pakistan and insults Islam or Mohamed Ali Jinnah. The Government has also warned newsmen against speculation on national issues such as the secret trial of Sheikh Mujib. Local newsmen are subject to Government directives asking them to use the phrase “developmental loan” instead of “foreign aid” and “defence procurement” instead of “military aid”.

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