Najam Sethi presented 'Golden Pen of Freedom' award

WEF president Xavier Vidal Folch gave away the award to Sethi, former Editor-in-Chief of Friday Times and Daily Times, at the inauguration of the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors' Forum, in the presence of President of India Pratibha Patil and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah among others, here on Tuesday.

Noting that Pakistan has become one of the most deadly places for journalists, Folch said the Golden Pen of Freedom was presented to Sethi "for being the voice of moderation" despite the constant danger he faced in his own country.

Sethi is known for his unwavering and courageous support for a secular and liberal Pakistan, Folch said hailing the award winner.

Expressing his happiness and gratitude over conferring of the award on him, Sethi said he was a "passionate believer" of enduring peace between India and Pakistan.

"I have been charged with treason for this reason," he lamented adding that he and his family were living in a constant state of seige. Referring to the media in the two neighbouring countries, Sethi regretted that they were "entrapped in narrow nationalism" and have become "part of the problem rather than solution."

He recalled how media in the two countries played spoilsport whenever efforts were made to reach a compromise. "It happened when Rajiv Gandhi was the Indian Prime Minister and Benzair Bhutto his Pakistani counter-part. It happened in 1997 when I K Gujral was the Indian Prime Minister. In 2001, Pakistani media stopped General Pervez Musharraf from reaching a compromise with India in Agra," Sethi recalled.

"Media in both countries put on the war-paint in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks and virtually drove the countries to the brink of war," Sethi said. "I am among the four Pakistani journalists on the Taliban hit-list. Three of them have left the country," he pointed out.

He said he would be happy if this award could mean realising ever-lasting peace between India and Pakistan and in that struggle if journalists moved forward.

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