World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Pakistan, 1 December 2014

Protest Campaign - Pakistan, 1 December 2014

Article ID:


The Right Honourable Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister of Pakistan


1 December 2014


Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our grave concern at the 26-year jail sentences handed out to a media owner, an actor, her husband and a TV presenter for blasphemy.

According to reports, on 25 November Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of the Jang-Geo media group, actor Veena Malik, her husband Asad Bashir Khan, and Geo TV host Shaista Wahidi were each sentenced to 26 years in jail following the airing of an allegedly blasphemous programme in May. The show played a religious song about prophet Muhammed's daughter while staging a mock wedding, which led to allegations that the TV programme ‎indulged in an alleged blasphemous act. All four defendants are reportedly outside of the country.

In announcing the verdict, judge Raja Shahbaz ordered the police to make arrests under Section 19 (10) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

We are seriously concerned that blasphemy charges are being used as a tool to silence media houses, human rights activists, lawyers and politicians, and to create an atmosphere of fear among those who would criticize certain vested interests. The threat of blasphemy charges creates a climate of fear that promotes self-censorship.

We call on you to do everything possible to ensure that the convictions are overturned and that the authorities stop using blasphemy to stifle freedom of expression. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that your government provides protection to those advocating free speech.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Yours sincerely,


Tomas Brunegård
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum


WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2014-12-01 18:28

Contact information

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...