SAFMA under attack


The sealing of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) office by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has once again highlighted the antagonistic nature of the relationship between the media and the Pakistani state. According to the LDA, it took the action based on complaints received from residents in the area about commercial activities at the SAFMA office. What it has not commented on thus far is how it did not give any notice for its action and that it had received a stay order from a civil court. Furthermore, the complaints on which LDA was acting were first filed at the Lahore High Court (LHC) several years ago and it is not clear what prompted the LDA to respond to them at this point in time. The ‘commercial activities’ in question are merely the running of the South Asian Media Library (SAML) — the only facility of its kind available to journalists in Lahore. Strangely enough, there are numerous other commercial entities in residential areas all over the city, which operate without having to fear any action from the LDA, such as private schools which attract hundreds of cars every day.