Najam Sethi

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Najam Aziz Sethi
نجم عزیز سیٹھی
Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board
In office
24th June 2013 – 21st July 2014
Preceded by Zaka Ashraf
Succeeded by Shahryar Khan
16th Chief Minister of Punjab
In office
27 March 2013 – 6 June 2013
Preceded by Shahbaz Sharif
Succeeded by Shahbaz Sharif
Personal details
Born 1948 (age 66–67)
Kasur, Punjab Province, West-Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Spouse(s) Jugnu Mohsin
Profession Journalist
Born c. 1948
Residence Lahore, Pakistan
Education MA
Alma mater Government College University, Lahore; Cambridge University
Occupation Journalist/News Anchor
Known for 1999 arrest by ISI
Notable credit(s) Editor-in-Chief The Friday Times
Awards CPJ International Press Freedom Award (1999)
Golden Pen of Freedom Award (2009)

Najam Aziz Sethi (Urdu/Western Punjabi: نجم سیٹھی; born c. 1948[1]) is the 16th and former (caretaker) chief minister of Punjab. He is an award-winning yet controversial Pakistani journalist, editor, and media personality, the editor-in-chief of The Friday Times, a Lahore based political weekly, and previously the editor of Daily Times and Daily Aajkal newspapers. He also has a current-affairs program on Geo TV called Aapas ki Baat and owns Vanguard Books, a publishing house and chain of bookstores.[1]

In 1999, he was arrested by Inter-Services Intelligence following an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation on government corruption, and detained for almost a month.

Sethi won the 1999 International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the 2009 World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom Award.

On March 26, 2013, his name was approved for the interim position of the chief minister of Punjab as a result of consensus between members of the selection committee comprising individuals from both the governing and the opposing political parties.[2] He took the oath on March 27.[3] Many people opposed his selection because he was involved in anti-state activities previously.


Sethi graduated from Government College University in Lahore. He received a Master's degree in economics at Cambridge University in the UK, and spent two additional years there at Clare College as a PhD research student.He belonges to Raja Jang a small village near Kot Radha Kishan district Kasur.[1]

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.[4]

1999 arrest[edit]

In early 1999, Sethi gave an interview to a team for the British Broadcasting Corporation television show Correspondent, which was planning to report on corruption in the Nawaz Sharif government.[5] At the beginning of May, he warned by contacts that his cooperation with the team was being interpreted by the Nawaz Sharif government as an attempt to destabilize it, and that officials were planning Sethi's arrest.[5] On 8 May, he was taken from his home by personnel of Punjab Police.[6][7] According to Sethi's wife 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.[5]

Sethi was then held for almost a month without charge. He was kept incommunicado at a detention center in Lahore.[8] Amnesty International stated its belief that his arrest was connected with his investigations into government corruption, and designated him a prisoner of conscience.[9] The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists also sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, noting the organization's dismay "that the state continues its persecution of independent journalists",[6] and World Bank president James Wolfensohn called Sharif to urge Sethi's release.[10]

On 1 June, authorities charged Sethi 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.[8]

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.[11]

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".[11]

Later activity[edit]

In 2008, when Sethi's newspapers ran a series of editorials opposing religious fundamentalism, the Taliban threatened him with death, causing him to live under constant guard.[12][13] Sethi also received death threats in July 2008 for publishing an editorial cartoon showing Umme Hassaan, principal of a girls' school, encouraging young women in burqas to "kidnap Chinese masseuses". The joke referred to Lal Masjid, the fundamentalist mosque at which her husband Abdul Aziz Ghazi was a cleric; the mosque had kidnapped six Chinese women that it accused of being prostitutes, leading to Ghazi's arrest.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

Sethi is married to fellow journalist Jugnu Mohsin, the publisher of The Friday Times. The couple have two children: novelist Ali Sethi and journalist Mira Sethi.[1]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1999, Sethi and Mohsin were both given the International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which recognizes journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.[6] Ten years later, he was awarded the 2009 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers.[13][16]

Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab[edit]

Najam Sethi was appointed as the caretaker Chief Minister (CM) Punjab on March 26 2013, for the General Elections 2013, which are scheduled to be held on 11 May 2013. His name was presented by PPP (Pakistan People's Party) and the opposition, PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz) agreed on it. He then became the Chief Minister of Pakistan's province, Punjab.[17] On 6 June 2013, he stepped down in favor of the newly elected Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahbaz Sharif.[18]

Acting Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board[edit]

Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif appointed him as the acting chairman Pakistan Cricket Board after the Islamabad High Court had ordered the Inter-Provincial Committee, Government of Pakistan looking after the sports affairs in the country – to appoint an interim chairman until the case is decided. Later on a two member bench of Islamabad high court ordered for the restoration of Zaka Ashraf as Chairman PCB and Sethi left as acting chairman.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography". Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Web Desk (26 March 2013). "Punjab interim CM: Najam Sethi's name approved". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Web Edition (27 March 2013). "Najam Sethi takes oath as caretaker CM Punjab". The News. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Najam Sethi. "The good ol' bad days". The Friday Times. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b c "1999 Awards — Announcement". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 1999. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Naimur Rahman (2003). Country Study Report: Pakistan 2003 (Report). Transparency International. p. 86. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ Terence Smith (23 November 1999). "Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin". NewsHour. PBS. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Philip Reeves (12 December 2008). "Taliban Angered By Pakistani Journalist's Writings". NPR. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Pakistani Editor Awarded 2009 Golden Pen of Freedom". World Association of Newspapers. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Red mist". The Economist.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 26 July 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Najam Sethi receives death threat from Pak militants for publishing cartoon". Hindustan Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 26 July 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Award". 
  17. ^ "Najam Sethi takes oath as caretaker Punjab CM". 27 March 2013. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Shahbaz Sharif to take oath as Punjab CM on June 6: Najam Sethi". Express News. 26 May 2013. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Najam Sethi appointed acting PCB chairman. Recently, Nawaz Sharif has again appointed him Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board.". Dawn News. 23 June 2013. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.