Beena Sarwar

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The country’s most prominent media owner-editor is detained and incarcerated. The image-conscious prime minister ignores a letter from United Nations officials about the detention, which Time magazine lists among the “10 ‘Most Urgent’ Cases of Threats to Press Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus”. The media tycoon is held for over 100 days without charge; five bail hearings are postponed, and the bench assigned to hear his case is changed three times in as many months.

Even for a nascent democracy such as Pakistan, under military rule for much of its existence, the bizarre arrest and ongoing detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is novel and tragic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was detained by plainclothes police at his home on Aug. 5 after giving an interview to Al Jazeera about student demonstrations. (AFP/Getty Images

The arrest in Bangladesh of the celebrated photojournalist Shahidul Alam is personal for me. He’s been a friend for over 20 years through our work on media and South Asia. As in Bangladesh, the nascent democracy in my own country, Pakistan, is marred by censorship, illegal detentions and extrajudicial killings.

Our common problems notwithstanding, the dominant narratives of Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are hostile to each other and suspicious of those who don’t follow the official script.

Shahidul, who is still in jail, has done more to promote a positive image of Bangladesh and counter stereotypes than those who ordered him to be arrested and are now charging him with ruining the country’s image through his social media posts.…  Seguir leyendo »