Jun 01, 2007

Sindh: Magazine Censored in Pakistan

The India-based Sindhi magazine ‘Sindhyun Jo Sansar’ was banned by Pakistani authorities for printing “provocative articles” against Pakistan.

The India-based Sindhi magazine ‘Sindhyun Jo Sansar’ was banned by Pakistani authorities for printing “provocative articles” against Pakistan.

Below is an article published by Pakistan Link:

KARACHI: The government of Sindh has banned an India-based monthly Sindhi magazine, ‘Sindhyun Jo Sansar’ (The World of Sindhis), for printing “provocative articles and news reports” against Pakistan.

Dr Ghansham Das G Hotumatani, a Pakistani national who graduated from Chandka Medical College Larkana and migrated to India in 1994, started publishing this monthly bilingual (English and Sindhi) magazine from New Delhi in 1995.

The magazine is not widely circulated as it was run by one man. Dr Hotumatni printed only a thousand copies of the magazine, mostly containing articles by writers from Sindh or material already published in other magazines from Sindh. He also sent copies to Pakistan, especially to Sindhi journalists.

The Sindh Home Department, through a notification on Wednesday, banned the magazine and ordered the confiscation of all its copies wherever found in the open market. It also ordered action against the editor, publisher, distributors and the sellers of the magazine.

Sindh Home Secretary Ghulam Muhammad Mohatarem told Daily Times he did not remember why the magazine had been banned. “I don’t remember exactly why we have banned the magazine as I am out of my office and the related file of this issue is lying in my office and whenever I will be at my office, I will be able to describe why we have banned the magazine,” he said.

Journalists and lawyers expressed anger over the ban. Lawyer and human rights activist Ayaz Latif Palejo condemned the ban and termed it an attempt to stop the “voice of the masses”.

“Gone are the days when banning a publication affected the actual cause of that magazine. In this age of the internet, such bans are nothing but a nonsensical attempt to stop the people’s voice,” Ayaz said. In Pakistan, the rulers had started banning magazines and other publications in the late 60s and early 70s, he said, so that they could stop the people from expressing themselves through these publications.

Prominent Sindhi drama writer and educationalist Hafeez Kumbhar rejected the ban and said it reflected the double standards of the Pakistani government. “On the one hand, Pakistan has started peace talks with India, while on the other hand, it [Pakistan] has also started banning different publications from India,” Kumbhar said, adding that the ban on the magazine would not affect the people’s ongoing struggle to express their views. “After the introduction of the internet, the world has shrunk to a village and even after the ban the material will reach the people somehow, so the ban will not have an effect,” he said.

Tens of thousands of Sindhi speaking and native residents of Sindh migrated to India after Partition in 1947, settling in various major cities of India. They started publishing various publications in the Sindhi language, and the banned magazine was one such publication.