Countering the displeasure of Allah

BY Shayoni Sarkar| IN Media Monitoring | 16/01/2008
In 2007, fundamentalist ire in Pakistan against sinful media picks up steam, beginning with no incidents in January and ending with 23 in December alone.
A Hoot special report, documentation by SHAYONI SARKAR Pix: An anti-vice squad in Pakistan. Courtesy EPA.

                     The  Panos-Hoot Indo Pak monitoring project 



                     Data sourced from the Pakistan Press Foundation



Quite separately from the attacks on the media, in the last three years Pakistan saw a growing incidence of  attacks on cinema, cable, audio and video, symptom of the growing influence of  the Islamic fundamentalism of the Taliban, and geographically  more or less concentrated in the areas bordering Afghanistan.


As journalist Ashfaq Yusufzai reported for Inter Press Service from Peshawar, On Mar. 4, 2007 there were explosions inside two saloons, a music shop and four other shops in the adjoining Bajaur Agency, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) along the restive Afghan border. The Taliban had reportedly banned music in the tribal areas, and had started fining taxi drivers found listening to music.

He added, according to news reports, a video shop in front of a police station in Bannu, the hometown of the NWFP chief minister Akram Durrani, was attacked by armed men suspected to be Taliban on Feb. 27. They destroyed CD players and CDs of Urdu, English and Indian films.


Through  the whole of 2005 there were no incidents. Then in November,  there was the first one in the North West Frontier Province in Swat, reported in The News: "Faithful in Swat make bonfire of TV sets."  Datelined Peshawar, the report said that  following a sermon by an Imam of a mosque in Mingora in Swat district, people brought television sets, VCRs and audio and video tapes from their homes and publicly burnt them amid slogans of Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is Greatest).


"Reports from Swat said more than 250 television sets were put to the fire in union council Malookabad, located within the limits of Mingora city. The television sets, along with VCRs, CDs and music and movies videos were piled up and burnt in a bonfire. The crowd, which included the union council Malookabad nazim Fazal Jalal, raised slogans of Allah-o-Akbar when the flames of fire leapt into the air and turned the heap into ashes."


As the report puts it this act was a response to a local maulana linking the October 8 earthquake which devastated the region, to a "sign of Allah¿s displeasure with our sins and way of life." He urged the people to cleanse their homes of the instruments of obscenity and start living life in accordance with teachings of Islam. And, apparently almost everyone in the area heeded his advice. The News said similar incidents had also been reported  from a few other places in the NWFP.


In 2006 there were incidents in January, February, March June and August, a total of six.  Three of these are reported from the North West Frontier Province,  and one each from FATA, Punjab and Balochistan.   In Dera Bugti a TV booster was blown up, as was one in Wana.  In Peshawar and elsewhere in the NWFP activists of the  banned religious organisation, Tehrik-e-Nifaz Shariah Muhammade (TNSM) set TVs, CDs, and VCDs on fire during their campaign against obscenity and vulgarity in Manglawara and Charbagh. In Punjab cinemas were damaged. And in June there was a countrywide ban on the Da Vinci Code.


In 2007, fundamentalist ire against sinful media picked up steam, beginning with no incidents in January and ending with 23 in December alone.  Early in the year the Mujahadeen banned music on buses in the Bajaur agency in Fatah.


Throughout the year thereafter there was a steady incidence of the burning of CD and video shops and attacks on cable operators. Ten in April  seven in May and seven in June. In December there was an explosion of incidents. Both audio and video cassette shops are destroyed.


The largest number of incidents were recorded in the North West Frontier Province,  in some eighteen  towns. The second largest number of attacks occured in the Federally Administered Tribal Area where eight locations recorded incidents, followed by four towns in the Punjab. 







North West Frontier Province (NWFP)

  1. Peshawar
  2. Karak
  3. Kohat
  4. Bilitang
  5. Mingora
  6. Charsadda
  7. Swat
  8. Buner 
  9. Matta Tehsil
  10. Malakand
  11. Matani

12.  Nowshera

  1. Mardan
  2. Swabi
  3. Chowk Yaadgaar
  4. Nishtarabad
  5. Lakki Marwat
  6. Hangu



Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)

  1. Ghalanai
  2. Landi Kotal
  3. Miramshah
  4. South Waziristan                            
  5. North Waziristan
  6. Bajaur Agency
  7. Wana
  8. Kurram Agency




  1. Okara
  2. Sialkot
  3. Islampura
  4. Lahore                                       




  1. Karachi




  1. Dera Bugti










December –

  1. Four more CD shops destroyed in PeshawarPeshawar (NWFP)
  2. Attacks force CD dealers to change trade: Software… - Peshawar (NWFP)
  3. two CD shops blown up – Peshawar (NWFP)
  4. Explosion destroys Mardan cable network – Mardan (NWFP)
  5. Two electronics shops gutted – Lahore (Punjab)
  6. Shops and warehouse destroyed in blasts – Nowshera (NWFP)
  7. Blast destroys cable operator¿s office – Mardan (NWFP)
  8. CD, grocery shops blown up – Nowshera (NWFP)
  9. Internet café, 2 CD shops blown up – Peshawar (NWFP)
  10. Attempt to dynamite shops foiled – Mardan (NWFP)
  11. Blast damages CDs shop – Peshawar (NWFP)
  12. Peshawar audiocassette shop blasted – Peshawar (NWFP)
  13. Explosion damages CD shops – Mardan (NWFP)
  14. Four CD shops destroyed – Peshawar (NWFP)
  15. Blast in CD shop, no casualty reported – Hangu (NWFP)
  16. Large number of TV sets, CDs burnt in Landikotal – Landi Kotal (FATA)
  17. CD shops blown up in Swabi – Swabi (NWFP)
  18. Militants¿ threats shut video shops to give way to… - Peshawar (NWFP)
  19. Video shop blown up in Mardan – Mardan (NWFP)
  20. 20. CD, barber shops blown up – Peshwar (NWFP)
  21. Music centre blown up – Peshawar (NWFP)
  22. Miscreants blow up three video shops – Buner (NWFP)
  23. Soldier held for blowing up music shops – Kohat (NWFP)



November –


  1. Threats force closure of 60 CD shops – Peshawar (NWFP)
  2. Music centres blown up by militants -- Ghamkol Afghan refugee camp (District Kohat; NWFP)



October –

  1. Music shop owner torches 10,000 CDs – Kohat (NWFP)
  2. Tailoring shops, music centres blown up - Ghalanai/Karak (Federally   Administered Tribal Areas, NWFP)
  3. Four policemen injured, 11 CD shops damaged in Koh... – Bilitang (NWFP)
  4. 25 injured, CD shops damaged in blasts - Peshawar(Nishtarabad area ) (NWFP)



September –

  1. CD shop blown up – Islampura (Punjab)
  2. Taliban bomb music and video markets for "promoting... – Mingora (NWFP)
  3. 40 video shops blown up in Mingora – Mingora (NWFP)
  4. Music centre blown up in Charsadda – Charsadda (NWFP)
  5. Public transporters asked to stop music – Swat (NWFP)



August –

1.      JUI-F asks for closure of video, CD shops – Sadda (Kurram Agency; FATA)

2.      PPF News Flash: Explosions destroy three music st... – NWFP (NWFP)

3.      Explosions destroy three music stores in Buner; sh... - Buner and Matta Tehsil (NWFP)

4.     Swat video shops receive threatening letters - Swat (Matta Tehsil and other areas) (NWFP)

5.      Three music shops blown up in Malakand – Malakand (NWFP)

6.      Three music shops damaged in Landi Kotal explosion... - Landi Kotal (FATA)



July –

  1. CD shops set on fire in Miramshah – Miramshah (FATA)



June –

1.        Three CD shops blown up – Matani (NWFP)

2.        CD shops bombed in Charsadda – Charsadda (NWFP)

3.        Video stores bombed following militant group¿s thr... – Charsadda (NWFP)

4.        Taliban blow up CD shop, letter threatens local me... – Bilitang (NWFP)

5.        Video shop owners asked to wind up business – Peshawar (NWFP)

6.        Taliban ban TV, CDs in public in parts of South Wa... - South Waziristan (FATA)

7.        Two CD shops bombed – Kohat (NWFP)



May –

1.        Man accused of bombing music shop was mosque¿s Ima... - Sherpao village (District Charsadda, NWFP)

2.        Video, CD shops given 10-day deadline – Nowshera (NWFP)

3.        Explosions damage seven music shops – Mardan (NWFP)

4.        Attempt to blow up music shops in Charsadda foiled... – Charsadda (NWFP)

5.        Taliban ban music in North Waziristan - North Waziristan (FATA)

6.        Militants smash cassette players, camera phones in... – Khar (Bajaur Agency; FATA)

7.        Blasts blow up seven CD shops in Charsadda – Charsadda (NWFP)



April –

1.        Cable operator¿s office attacked in Kohat – Kohat (NWFP)

2.        CD shop-owners fear wrath of Jamia Hafsa – Islamabad (Islamabad)

3.        Music shops blown up in Swabi – Swabi (NWFP)

4.        Local Taliban raid video shop, burn CDs in Islamab... – Islamabad (Islamabad)

5.        Five madressah students held for

Subscribe To The Newsletter
The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

Clearly, the run to the 2019 elections is on. A journalist received a call from someone saying they were from Aajtak channel and were conducting a survey, asking whom she was going to vote for in 2019. On being told that her vote was secret, the caller assumed she wasn't going to vote for 'Modiji'. The caller, a woman, also didn't identify herself. A month or two earlier the same journalist received a call, this time from a man, asking if she was going to vote for the BSP.                 

View More