Jugnu Mohsin

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Jugnu Mohsin
Born c. 1958
Nationality Pakistani
Occupation publisher, satirist
Organization The Friday Times, Vanguard Books
Spouse(s) Najam Sethi
Relatives Moni Mohsin (sister)
Awards CPJ International Press Freedom Award (1999)

Jugnu Mohsin (c. 1958[1]) is a Pakistani publisher and editor of the Lahore-based The Friday Times, Pakistan's first English-language independent newsweekly. She also writes a monthly satire column for the paper. In 1999, her husband, Friday Times editor-in-chief Najam Sethi, was kidnapped by the Nawaz Sharif government for his work as a journalist and held for a month without charge, causing Mohsin to launch an international campaign for his release. That year, she and Sethi were awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Founding of The Friday Times[edit]

According to Sethi, he first conceived of the idea for an independent Pakistani newspaper out of frustration: while briefly imprisoned in 1984 on trumped-up copyright charges, no newspapers had protested his arrest. The following year, he and Mohsin applied for a publishing license under Mohsin's name, since Sethi was "too notorious an offender" to be approved. Called into Nawaz Sharif's office to discuss the application, Mohsin told him that she intended to publish "a social chit chat thing, you know, with lots of pictures of parties and weddings". It was finally approved in 1987, but Mohsin requested a one-year delay to avoid the first issue coming out during the dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq. The paper's first issue appeared in May 1989.[2]

1999 kidnapping incident[edit]

In early 1999, Mohsin's husband, Najam Sethi, gave an interview to a team for the British Broadcasting Corporation television show Correspondent, which was planning to report on corruption in the Pakistani government.[3] At the beginning of May, he warned by contacts that his co-operation with the team was being interpreted by the government as an attempt to destabilise it, and that officials were planning Sethi's arrest.[3] On 8 May, he was taken from his home by government agents.[4] According to Mohsin, at least eight armed officers broke into the house, assaulting the family's security guards; when asked to produce a warrant, one of them threatened simply to shoot Sethi on the spot. Mohsin was tied up and left locked in another room.[3]

Sethi was then held for almost a month without charge, in the custody of the army intelligence group Inter-Services Intelligence. He was kept incommunicado at a detention center in Lahore.[5] Mohsin launched a publicity campaign for his release, contacting several international NGOs while also continue to publish the Friday Times. Amnesty International stated its belief that his arrest was connected with his investigations into government corruption, and designated him a prisoner of conscience.[6] The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists also sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, noting the organisation's dismay "that the state continues its persecution of independent journalists",[4] and World Bank president James Wolfensohn called Sharif to urge Sethi's release.[7]

On 1 June, authorities charged him with "Condemnation of the Creation of the State and Advocacy of Abolition of its Sovereignty" and "Promoting Enmity Between Different Groups" and transferred him to police custody. However, the following day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the government had provided insufficient evidence to justify Sethi's detention. He was released, and the charges against him were dropped.[5]

In 1999, Mohsin and Sethi were both given the International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which recognises journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.[4]

My Feudal Lord[edit]

In June 1991, Mohsin and Sethi's publishing company, Vanguard Books, released Tehmina Durrani's My Feudal Lord, a "politically explosive" book about her marriage with leading politician Mustafa Khar. In the book, Durrani alleges that Khar mistreated and abused her. It was an "instant sensation" and later became the "hottest book in Pakistan's history". Durrani signed a contract vesting foreign rights with Mohsin and giving her 50% of foreign royalties.[8]

On 19 May 1999, however—during Sethi's one-month incommunicado detention—Durrani called a press conference to denounce him as having stolen all of her earnings from the book, stating that his actions were "an even bigger case of hypocrisy than my experience with the feudal system". Durrani sued Sethi for mental torture, and he countersued for defamation. An earlier dispute over the foreign rights had been settled out of court in 1992. A review of the contracts by the UK newspaper The Independent described Sethi as acting in good faith and described him and Mohsin as "the injured party".[8]

Satire[edit]

During the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, Mohsin wrote a monthly humour column titled "Mush and Bush" featuring fictional conversations between the president and US President George W. Bush. She had previously targeted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with a column for his "dim and authoritarian personality, his intolerance of dissent".[9] Her sister, Moni Mohsin, satirises the country's social elites with another column for the paper, "Diary of a Social Butterfly".[9]

Views[edit]

Mohsin advocates a liberal Pakistan and opposes religious fundamentalism. In January 2006, she argued for the right of women to participate in a marathon wearing shorts instead the salwar kameez.[10] She later became a major critic of the former cricketer Imran Khan's entry into politics, stating that he "doesn't really have a firm grip on history, or politics, or economy ... He would be very easily led and misled."[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Parul (21 February 2011). "Butterfly effect". India Today.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Najam Sethi. "The good ol' bad days". The Friday Times. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Ann K. Cooper (10 May 1999). "Veteran Journalist Najam Sethi Arrested". Committee to Protect Journalists. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "1999 Awards – Announcement". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 1999. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Ann K. Cooper (3 June 1999). "Najam Sethi, editor of the The Friday Times. Released". Committee to Protect Journalists. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Further information on UA 107/99 (ASA 33/11/99, 14 May 1999) and follow-up (ASA 33/13/99, 21 May 1999) – Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture". Amnesty International. 3 June 1999. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Terence Smith (23 November 1999). "Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin". NewsHour. PBS. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Peter Popham (20 July 1999). "My feudal lords Amnesty honoured him with its Journalism Under Threat award, but in Pakistan Najam Sethi is still persecuted". The Independent.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Emily Wax (28 November 2007). "How Pakistan's Satirists Poke Fun, Politically". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Pak women run to shake off their country's Taliban past". Hindustan Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 30 January 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Mike Giglio (18 April 2012). "King Khan". Newsweek.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 8 September 2012. 

External links[edit]