Pakistan silences media 'enemy'

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The Independent Online
LONG-SIMMERING FEARS that Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was preparing to silence his chief remaining adversary, the print media, received ugly confirmation yesterday when it was learned that the country's most courageous editor had been arrested.

Najam Sethi, editor of the waspish and indispensable Friday Times, was woken at 2am yesterday by police who burst into his bedroom and dragged him away. When Mr Sethi and his wife, Jugnu Moshin, the publisher of the Friday Times, demanded to see a warrant, the policemen threatened to shoot them. They tied Ms Moshin's hands and locked her in her dressing room. Mr Sethi's present whereabouts are unknown.

Since becoming Prime Minister two years ago, Mr Sharif has steadily eliminated his enemies one by one, replacing the president and the heads of the judiciary and the armed forces with figures responsive to his wishes. Last month another obstacle was removed when the leader of the Opposition, Benazir Bhutto, received a five-year prison sentence for corruption and embezzlement.

Mr Sharif has also been steadily advancing on the print media, as Pakistani television is already in government control. He threatened the existence of The News, the nation's most critical daily paper, by cutting off its supply of newsprint. Mr Sethi seemed immune from such attacks, as his paper supply was beyond the government's control. But yesterday's arrest makes it clear that Mr Sharif's tactics are growing bolder as his power expands.

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