SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

The New Censorship Regime in Pakistan

The New Censorship Regime in Pakistan
Muhammad Badar Alam

Date: 9 October 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 9 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Wolfson Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


Despite bold promises of a “new Pakistan”, practices of news management and censorship continue only with greater intensity and an expanded scope. What then is “new” about the new censorship regime in Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’?

The talk will explore how both older and newer techniques of censorship have been brought to bear on the contemporary news media landscape – a project that has put in place a new censorship regime to which the Pakistani news media has almost fully capitulated. By analysing, on the one hand, the legal, technological and political changes and, on the other, the political economy of news media, the development of regulatory frameworks and the challenges of digitisation and social media, the talk will illuminate how censorship, and self-censorship, have become endemic across all types of news media in Pakistan.


Muhammad Badar Alam was, until its recent closure in July 2019, the editor of the Karachi based current affairs monthly, The Herald. He has been a journalist in Pakistan, with both Urdu and English news publications, for over twenty five years. He started his career with the Urdu daily, The Jang in 1992 before moving to the English daily The News where he worked in various editorial and reporting capacities. After stints with the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and as the Pakistan correspondent of the Delhi-based English daily Mail Today he joined The Herald as its Lahore bureau chief before becoming editor in 2010. He has also conducted research projects on Pakistani news media, including a project on media ownership in association with Reporters Without Borders. 

Discussant: Declan Walsh

Declan Walsh is currently the Cairo Bureau chief for The New York Times covering Egypt and the Middle East. He was previously the Pakistan/Afghanistan correspondent for The Guardian (2004-2011) and the Pakistan bureau chief for The New York Times (2012-2013). Born in Ireland, he studied at University College Dublin and Dublin City University. His first job was with the Sunday Business Post in Dublin. He lived in Kenya for five years, covering sub-Saharan Africa before moving to Islamabad in 2004 as correspondent for The Guardian. He moved to The New York Times in January 2012 and was expelled from Pakistan in May 2013 for unspecified “undesirable activities”. Declan has won an Irish national media award and been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Orwell Prize. He has also been published in Granta magazine.

ModeratorAsad Ali Ahmed

The event is free to attend but registration essential. Click here to register. 


Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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