Aaj Kal launched from Islamabad -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Aaj Kal launched from Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: All moderate forces should unite against the forces of religious extremism, posing a threat to Pakistan, said Salmaan Taseer, publisher of Daily Times, while addressing the launching ceremony of Aaj Kal, an Urdu daily newspaper of the Media Times here on Monday.

He said Aaj Kal would be the voice of moderation and a beacon for those opposing religious extremism. “After Imroz of the 1950s, it will be the first truly independent Urdu newspaper,” he said.

Salmaan Taseer said being the printer and publisher of Daily Times and Aaj Kal, he would remain neutral and not interfere with the editorial policy of the Urdu newspaper, much like he has refrained from doing so in the case of Daily Times.

“I have never interfered in the editorial matters of Daily Times and Business Plus and will follow the same policy for Aaj Kal,” he said. Taseer said he remained in jail five times during General Ziaul Haq’s military regime and three times during Nawaz Sharif’s democratic government, but he had still invited Nawaz Sharif to the inauguration of Aaj Kal in Lahore.

“It is time for reconciliation. Pakistan is bleeding. It is time to heal the wounds. All those opposing religious extremism should get united,” he said. Najam Sethi, Editor-in-Chief of Daily Times and Aaj Kal, asked the political parties, media and civil society to join hands for a better Pakistan. “Our yesterday is full of sorrow but our tomorrow is full of hope. This hope comes from those who are struggling for the restoration of democracy, independence of judiciary and freedom of media.”

He said it was the first time in the history of the country that the civil society had come out on the streets for a greater cause — the fight against extremism — which flourished during the last eight years of President Musharraf’s rule. Mr Sethi said Nawaz Sharif, who was the chief guest at Aaj Kal’s launching ceremony in Lahore, vowed that his party would do away with all the laws curbing media freedom on coming to power. Similarly, other parties had been making tall claims of ensuring the freedom of media, but reneged on their promises upon coming to power.

He said Aaj Kal was being launched at a time when uncertainty was prevailing in the country and people were in the grip of fears of uncertain future. “People have fears if the elections will be fair. Would there be a stable government after elections. Who will form the next government,” he said. Sethi, however, said the democratic set up would soon be in place after the elections and things would start moving in the right direction. Khalid Chaudhry, Group Editor of Aaj Kal said the paper would be a voice for the oppressed, minorities and would carry forward the values of tolerance. He said it would support the provincial autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution of 1973 and resist religious extremism.

Huma Ali, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) president, said journalists would continue the struggle for media freedom. She criticised curbs on the media after the November 3 emergency and said that they were still in place. Commenting on a reported statement of the information secretary that the media was ready to present itself for accountability, she said the government should also be ready to be accountable before the media.

Kishwar Naheed, a poetess and writer, expressed the hope that Aaj Kal would continue with the liberal values and not succumb to pressures. “It is like a fresh air, especially for people like me after a long time.”
Source: Daily Times
Date:2/18/2008