Freedom of Speech and Censorship of Ansar Abbasi

Aug 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Censorship, Jang

Ansar Abbasi once again finds himself at the center of controversy, this time not because of what he wrote in an article published by The News or Daily Jang but because of what he wrote in an article not published by his employer. This latest incident has resulted in that unique situation where conservatives demand an end to censorship and liberals demand more of Abbasi’s writing. But is there really a controversy here? Or is it another storm in a tea cup?

Ironically, in the article that was supposedly censored, Ansar Abbasi complains at great length about cable operators and media owners showing ‘Indian culture’ which is, according to Abbasi, filled with vulgarity and nudity. He goes on to complain that nobody is doing anything about it. For example, censoring it.

So here we have a situation in which a writer who is demanding greater censorship is now complaining that he has been censored? Some might term that as blatant hypocrisy, but such a label is unwarranted. After all, Abbasi was never censored.

Why do I say Ansar Abbasi was not censored? For the same reason that I – and everyone else – knows what he wrote. It was published on the website of Saach.TV.

This should not be difficult to understand. If Saach TV published the article, it wasn’t censored. Now, some will respond that it was censored by Jang, where Abbasi is employed and where the piece was originally filed. But this raises an important question: Are media groups obligated to publish any foolish thing that they are given?

What if Ansar Abbasi’s piece had not been anti-India but had been about how Krishna came to him in a dream and now he has converted to Hindu and that he calls on all Muslims to abandon their faith. Would it be censorship if Jang chose not to publish it?

Media groups like Jang are private businesses, and with the growth of private media groups, there is competition between them for an audience. The Nation is not obligated to publish pieces by Marvi Sirmed, and Dawn TV is not obligated to broadcast a show hosted by Zaid Hamid. Freedom of the press means that a media group has the right to report whatever it wants, but it also means the same media group has the right not to publish what it doesn’t want.

In this case, Ansar Abbasi submitted a piece to Jang and for whatever reason the editors there chose not to publish it. Maybe they thought it was embarrassingly stupid. Maybe they just didn’t have space for it. Does that mean that Abbasi’s pro-censorship article went unread? Obviously not. Another media group, Saach TV chose to publish it and now it is widely available. PEMRA has not issued any order to destroy all copies, and Army is not storming media offices or placing Abbasi under arrest. In short, nothing has been censored at all.

Article 19 grants every citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression and protects freedom of the press. Article 19A grants every citizen the right to access information in all matters of public importance. Nowhere, however, does the Constitution grant every citizen the fundamental right to be published in a newspaper. Ansar Abbasi has the right to write whatever he wants. And Jang has the right to decide whether or not they believe his writing is worth publishing. That’s not censorship, it’s editing.

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9 comments
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  1. Ban on Ansar Abbasi’s column has made his & his like minded journalists’ claim in Pakistani urdu media true that Minorities have equal rights in Pakistan.

    Ansar Abbasi and 99.9% Pakistani Journalists and Pakistani Press remained criminally silent upon continuous ban on Ahmadiyya Publications and Media Boycott of Ahmadis’ Columns & Press Releases.
    So much so all these so called journalists never raised their voices against ban on Ahmadiyya TV channel MTA on cable in Pakistan.

    Ansar Abbasi and all others didn’t bothered to speak a single word upon ban of Ahmadiyya website alislam.org & thepersecution.org in Pakistan. Main stream Media has totally boycotted their events & great jobs done by Ahmadis in the field of humanity. They even didn’t give any news of Great Scientist Dr Abdus Salam’s contribution in recent discovery of Higgs Boson (The God Particle).

    Iاِک ہم ہی نہیں چہنتے چہنتے جن کے سب حق معدوم ہوۓ۔۔۔ رفتہ رفتہ آزادی سے سب اھلِ وطن محروم ہوۓ

  2. you should be ashamed of yourself. You people are not ahmadis but infact qadianis. and qadianis are non-muslims as per constitution of 1973 ; thats your original name. You people try to manipulate religion in the name of islam. and still wants uplifiting of bans on your media. have you people forgotten the writings of your father ghulam qadiani maloon roohani khazain which was full of non-sense. and hats off to AKSHAIKH and qadianis that reverted to islam for exposing your frauds against islam. Till the time you revert to islam, you people an your media must remain banned.

  3. Another trash talk. So you listing the contents of ansar abbassi’s article as foolish but bravo & Hats Off to him that he atlast took some courage in exposing those sickened heads.

    With the fragrence of rotten jealousy coming from the article of yours, presenting a pure secular approach and trying unsuccessfully to impose your point of view with great failure and illogical points. Furthermore, I bet you this is not “Freedom of Speech” for the contents of so called freedom vocalist’s article but infact a “TerrorISM OF sPEECH”.

    Ooops. name of author not there and writing the article “with such BIG WORDS”. simply unaceptable.

  4. Wow man… i cant imagine how close minded and irrational you are in person after reading your comments. Generally, i do not comment on any blogs or websites and especially those which are written by low-life hypocritical scumbags like you. Before i begin, i too am a muslim and a resident of pakistan. From your comments it seems as if you are some brainwashed uneducated lunatic. On your above comment you have shown all these qualities quite visibly. The main reason for this anger vented at you is that islam as a faith and a way of life was the most advanced society at the time of prophet muhammad(pbuh) in terms of human rights. Our religion preaches free will and tolerance again and again. Infact, the prophet’s(pbuh) last sermon was the first human rights charter of its time. Moreover, the teachings of this sermon were the very foundations of the united nation’s charter. Are you claiming that the 1973 constitution is a word of GOD? These changes made in 1973 if you would care to know were primarily made to facilitate the political powers of the time and their agendas. I am a muslim and a resident of this country aswell but i am absolutely ashamed of the way we treat the minorities of pakistan. Anyone born in this country of any sect. or religion should be seen as an equal member of this country. This their human right. All these minorities are as pakistani as you are. Everyone should be allowed to freely practice their faith without any prejudice. Have you ever seen from any first hand experiences how blatantly people from minority groups such as the ahemediya community are being persecuted in pakistan. The father of this nation, qaid-e-azam’s own politcal ideology was such that he promoted tolerance and freedom. The qaid dreamed of a secular pakistan so that the state and religion stay seperate. We talk about how us pakistanis are treated by people of western world when we visit their countries. You’ll be surprised to know that the way we treat our foreigners is so much worse than how we are treated abroad. They might have different ideologies or faiths and they might even from inside detest us but they still respect us. Do you have any idea who dr.abdus salam was? He is the only pakistani till this date to have won a nobel prize in physics. Do you know how big of a deal that is? Do you even know what our government treated him like? People like you and ansar abbasi are the true definition of a hypocrites. Your God will be as happy with you if you try to save or help an innocent life, be it muslim or non-muslim. And who are you or any other constitution or government or a leader to decide whom will be labeled as muslim or non muslim. We all have free will and we all take steps and actions which we believe in. This is our Creater’s job. I hope you have realised how sick and disgusting your comments are regarding these minorities. Aur bhai jab debate kartay ho ya karnay ki koshish kartay ho tao dil nahin dimagh ka istamaal kiya karo.

  5. Awww. & you need moderation of my comments. hmmmm. lets see what it will be. Censorship or freedom of speech. 🙂

  6. so what about talat hussain getting blocked…????

  7. Good excuses by jang group….keep ur hypocracy up…u hv a very good contribution in destroying this country youth. the author of this article really think this nation is stupid. why not u answer the material published by Ansar Abbasi?

  8. well infact they want to shape pakistani society on their terms and want to make this society full of non-sense and free of moral value but INSHA ALLAH they will never succeed.

    just explore any pakistani media channel who is showing the withering painful conditions of muslims across the worldand major issues which pakistan is facing but no they will not. instead they will show veena malik ka istaghfar, aisamul haq kee shadi tootnay kee khabar, rajesh khanna ki tareefain, balochistan k baray mein ghalat media reporting etc etc. and now it is hardly felt that there is a need to expose these black sheeps to save pakistan from them.

  9. Who-so-ever journalist is fair in his profession, agrees to Ansar Abbasi; but is afraid of the media house owner where he is employed. Media House Owners in assosiation with Cable Operators have become FIR’ON, who want to stop the voices against their interest (only & only money making) even at the cost of religion, ethics, modesty and national interest. The girls with uncovered arms, shoulders and legs are shown on Pakistani Channels in adds and other programmes.; do any honourable media person in Pakistan wants his/her female relatives in this condition on TV. This is hypocrisy to speak on others BAD and not to stop oneself from his own WORST.
    Dear Journalists, be courageous and start cleansing this obscenity and removing this hypocrisy from your field. Otherwise you are compromising with YELLOW JOURNALISM OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA and this will be against your professional dignity.

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