I was told by military personnel during Zia regime that readers of English and Urdu newspapers would not come out in streets but Sindhi readers would: Sohail Sangi

Wednesday 03 May 2017 5 months ago 391   Hyderabad   Print

Senior Journalist Sohail Sangi-File Photo

Report  Kaleem Butt : (An Interview with senior journalist and leftist activist Mr. Sohail Sangi in connection to Freedom of Press Day) HYDERABAD: Mr. Sohail Sangi is one of the most senior journalists of Sindh, he was born in 1953 in small village of district Tharparkar, he also known as the pioneer of progressive journalism in Sindhi language. Sohail Sangi got his degree of M.A from Sindh University in English and joined journalism; he has worked for numerous publications including: Daily Sindh News, Daily Ibrat, Daily Safeer, Daily Awami Awaz, Daily Kawish and lately he was associated with Daily Dawn. Mr. Sangi also used to publish a weekly news magazine Arsee, currently he teaches at the Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Sindh as Visiting Faculty. Online Indus News thanks Mr. Sangi for giving time. Q: How important is Free Press for progress in society? SS: Free Press is the sign of critical thinking, diversity of viewpoints, and very much important for socio-cultural and economic development, no society could move forward without free press, by oppressing and suppressing press you are barring the way of critical thinking and other opinion. Q: How Do you see the role of Sindhi press and journalists for free press? SS: Sindhi journalists have suffered a lot as compared to journalists of other languages of Pakistan, in the Zia regime when there was censorship everywhere yet the English and Urdu journalists were given space to write something on different issues but Sindhi media was not given that much space. Once I had translated a piece that was published in Dawn newspaper, and even given the courtesy after publishing it in Sindh News, I was called by the Military Court, and the officer asked whether I know what to publish or what not to publish, he was referring to that particular piece which I had translated, I told him that piece is already published in Dawn, I was told by military personnel that readers of English and Urdu newspapers would not come out in streets but Sindhi readers would, this was a new thing for me. Q: Were Sindhi journalists active in participation against Censorship? SS: Sindhi journalists were very much active against censorship; especially in the Zia regime when there were government officers dictating what to publish and what not to publish, they used to take out news items and asked to put something else mostly in Sindhi newspapers, while in retaliation papers let the empty space go for publishing, sometimes whole page was left out. The Sindhi journalists were wiped and tortured for doing journalism, but they always resisted, I remember two journalists of Hyderabad Ghani Dars and Zahid Samo, they traveled to Lahore to give their arrest against censorship. Then in the period of Liaquat Jatoi as Chief Minister Sindh, the Sindhi journalists were baton charged for protesting, they were jailed and faced every kind of hardship. Q: Pakistan is considered to be one of the most dangerous countries to do journalism, why is that so? SS: From beginning Pakistan is based on monolithic idea, meaning we have one religion, one language and even one nation, there is lack of diversity in Pakistani society, and this creates hurdles in the way of freedom of press, state and non-state actors for their vested interests try to suppress media, while the journalists are made soft targets just because they bring out things that might be against some person or ideology. Q: Do you think government acting against Dawn Leaks is an attack on free press? SS: Of course it is an attack upon free press, but the government failed to realize that in this advanced era no one is able to control news, in this particular case of Dawn Leaks at the beginning it was said that the news story is fake, if it was fake news this version was enough, why did the government go on to suspend the officers and even the minister blaming they were unable to stop news from publishing, how can they stop any news from publishing, firstly it is not their job to stop news from publishing, secondly how can you stop anything from publishing in this age of technology, we are living in a democratic era and in it media has to be free or martial law should, government is trying to hide its incompetence by oppressing media. 02