Partial scan of IHT op-ed pages: empty space can be seen to the right of editorials
You need only to see the front page of the IHT to see what that big gaping hole is all about. On the front page is the following teaser to what should have been inside:
One myth, many Pakistans
"A lethal attack on two mosques that killed more than 80 members of the Ahmadi religious sect was the result of years of ignoring religious diversity, writes Ali Sethi. PAGE 6"
Ali Sethi is of course the first-time novelist of The Wish Maker and journalists Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi's son. You can read the full article, as it was published elsewhere in the IHT editions, here.
Having read the piece, however, I am at a loss to understand why it was considered necessary to pull this piece out, and that too so apparently last minute that nothing could be substituted for it. Sethi is not the most gifted of writers but, really, there is little in the article that is so shocking or so provocative that it should make the ET administration quake in their boots about possible repercussions. Even more bizarrely, ET editorials themselves have taken stronger lines against religious quackery and discrimination, one evidence of which can be seen here.
The blank space also recalls that particular era of Pakistani journalism, just after General Ziaul Haq imposed martial law in 1977, when military censorship was forcing newspapers to drop reports and articles that went against the regime. Newspapers responded by printing blank spaces in their stead, and sometimes entire front pages were printed blank, until the military authorities cottoned on to the fact that journalists were effectively conveying the brutal censorship to the public at large. Thereafter the military authorities forced newspapers to substitute other articles and reports for the censored material and forbade blank spaces. But of course the difference here is that there was no one ostensibly forcing the management of ET to censor its own partner publication.
What might be even more interesting to see is how the IHT editors and management respond to this censorship. Censorship of the IHT is no small matter - especially given how prized Americans hold the concept of free speech - and this may indeed have consequences for ET's relationship with IHT.
Watch this (non-blank) space for developments.