Najam Sethi

Najam Aziz Sethi (Punjabi: نجم سیٹھی; born c.  20 May 1948[2]) is a Pakistani journalist, businessman and a former marxist who is also the founder of The Friday Times and Vanguard Books. Previously, as an administrator, he served as Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board, caretaker Federal Minister of Pakistan and Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan.

Najam Aziz Sethi
نجم عزیز سیٹھی
Umer Toor & Najam Sethi Pakistan Super League PSLt22 Cricket (cropped).png
Najam Sethi at the launch of PSL in 2015
Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board
In office
10 August 2017 – 20 August 2018
PresidentMamnoon Hussain
Prime MinisterShahid Khaqan Abbasi Imran Khan
Preceded byShahryar Khan
Succeeded byEhsan Mani
Chairman of the Pakistan Super League
Assumed office
20 September 2015
Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board
In office
24 June 2013 – 21 July 2014
Preceded byZaka Ashraf
Succeeded byShahryar Khan
16th Chief Minister of Punjab
Caretaker [[Chairman of the Mitchell's]]
In office
27 March 2013 – 6 June 2013
Preceded byShehbaz Sharif
Succeeded byShehbaz Sharif
Personal details
Najam Sethi

1948 (age 72–73)
Kasur, Punjab Province, Pakistan
(m. 1983)
ChildrenMira Sethi (daughter)
Ali Sethi (son)
OccupationJournalist, TV Anchor
Known forEditor-in-Chief The Friday Times
AwardsCPJ International Press Freedom Award (1999)
Golden Pen of Freedom Award (2009)
Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award in 2011[1]

As a journalist, he is a left-leaning political commentator who serves as the editor-in-chief of The Friday Times and serves as Chairman of Pakistan Super League.[2] He has also served as the caretaker chief minister of Punjab during the 2013 election. He formerly used to host primetime current affairs show Aapas ki Baat on Geo News.[3] He is currently the President of AAP Media Media Network / Indus News.[4]

Najam Sethi began his sociopolitical endeavours with the socialist movement working for the rights of Baluchistan, leading to his arrest in 1975 before being discharged in 1978. He consequently left politics and established Vanguard Books, a progressive book publishing company.[3]

In 1989, Sethi along with his wife Jugnu Mohsin launched an independent English weekly, The Friday Times. He was arrested by the second Nawaz Sharif government in 1999 on trumped-up charges of treason before being released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In 2002, he founded the Daily Times of Pakistan and became its editor until leaving in October 2009. He also served as the Pakistan correspondent of The Economist from 1990 to 2008.[3]

Sethi won the 1999 International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the 2009 World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom Award. On 26 March 2013, his name was approved for the interim position of the chief minister of Punjab as a result of consensus between members of the selection committee comprising individuals from both the governing and the opposing political parties.[5] He took the oath on 27 March 2013, and left the office after the May 2013 elections on 6 June 2013.[6]


According to Sethi, he first conceived of the idea for an independent Pakistani newspaper out of frustration: while briefly imprisoned in 1984 on trumped-up copyright charges, no newspapers had protested his arrest. The following year, he and Mohsin applied for a publishing licence under Mohsin's name, since Sethi was "too notorious an offender" to be approved. Called into Nawaz Sharif's office to discuss the application, Mohsin told him that she intended to publish "a social chit chat thing, you know, with lots of pictures of parties and weddings". It was finally approved in 1987, but Mohsin requested a one-year delay to avoid the first issue coming out during the dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq. The paper's first issue appeared in May 1989.[7]

1999 arrestEdit

In early 1999, Sethi gave an interview to a team for the British Broadcasting Corporation television show Correspondent, which was planning to report on corruption in the Nawaz Sharif government.[8] At the beginning of May, he was warned by contacts that his co-operation with the team was being interpreted by the Nawaz Sharif government as an attempt to destabilize it and that officials were planning Sethi's arrest.[8] On 8 May, he was taken from his home by personnel of Punjab Police.[9] According to Sethi's wife Mohsin, at least eight armed officers broke into the house, assaulting the family's security guards; when asked to produce a warrant, one of them threatened simply to shoot Sethi on the spot. Mohsin was tied up and left locked in another room.[8]

Sethi was then held for almost a month without charge. He was kept incommunicado at a detention center in Lahore.[10] Amnesty International stated its belief that his arrest was connected with his investigations into government corruption, and designated him a prisoner of conscience.[11] The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists also sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, noting the organisation's dismay "that the state continues its persecution of independent journalists",[10] and World Bank president James Wolfensohn called Sharif to urge Sethi's release.

On 1 June, authorities charged Sethi with "Condemnation of the Creation of the State and Advocacy of Abolition of its Sovereignty" and "Promoting Enmity Between Different Groups" and transferred him to police custody. However, the following day, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the government had provided insufficient evidence to justify Sethi's detention. He was released, and the charges against him were dropped.[10]

My Feudal LordEdit

In June 1991, Mohsin and Sethi's publishing company, Vanguard Books, released Tehmina Durrani's My Feudal Lord, a "politically explosive" book about her marriage with leading politician Mustafa Khar. In the book, Durrani alleges that Khar mistreated and abused her. It was an "instant sensation" and later became the "hottest book in Pakistan's history". Durrani signed a contract vesting foreign rights with Mohsin and giving her 50% of foreign royalties.[12]

On 19 May 1999, however—during Sethi's one-month incommunicado detention—Durrani called a press conference to denounce him as having stolen all of her earnings from the book, stating that his actions were "an even bigger case of hypocrisy than my experience with the feudal system". Durrani sued Sethi for mental torture, and he countersued for defamation. An earlier dispute over the foreign rights had been settled out of court in 1992. A review of the contracts by the UK newspaper The Independent described Sethi as acting in good faith and described him and Mohsin as "the injured party".[12]

In 2008, when Sethi's newspapers ran a series of editorials opposing religious fundamentalism, the Taliban threatened him with death, causing him to live under constant guard.[13][14] Sethi also received death threats in July 2008 for publishing an editorial cartoon showing Umme Hassaan, principal of a girls' school, encouraging young women in burqas to "kidnap Chinese masseuses". The joke referred to Lal Masjid, the fundamentalist mosque at which her husband Abdul Aziz Ghazi was a cleric; the mosque had kidnapped six Chinese women that it accused of being prostitutes, leading to Ghazi's arrest.[15][16]

Caretaker Chief Minister of PunjabEdit

Najam Sethi was appointed as the caretaker Chief Minister (CM) Punjab on 26 March 2013, for the 'General Elections 2013', which were scheduled to be held on 11 May 2013. His name was presented by PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) and the opposition, PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz) agreed on it. He then became the Chief Minister of Pakistan's province, Punjab.[17] On 6 June 2013, he stepped down in favour of the newly elected Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahbaz Sharif.[18] PTI, the party that lost the 2013 elections, had accused Najam Sethi of fixing the elections in 35 constituencies.[19]

Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket BoardEdit

Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif appointed him as the acting chairman Pakistan Cricket Board after the Islamabad High Court ordered the appointment of an interim chairman until a pending case on the serving chairman, Zaka Ashraf, was decided. Later, a two-member bench of Islamabad high court cleared Zaka Ashraf and ordered his restoration as chairman PCB. Sethi then relinquished chairmanship.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

Sethi is married to fellow journalist Jugnu Mohsin, the publisher of The Friday Times. The couple have two children: author and singer Ali Sethi and journalist and actress Mira Sethi.[2][21]

Awards and recognitionEdit

In 1999, Sethi and Mohsin were both given the International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which recognises journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.[10] Ten years later, he was awarded the 2009 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers.[14][10] Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award in 2011 by the President of Pakistan[1]


  1. ^ a b Najam Sethi's Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award info listed on Dawn (newspaper) Published 23 March 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2020
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Archived from the original on 2 July 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Paracha, Nadeem F. (19 June 2014). "Najam Sethi: Chirping away facts". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Najam Sethi returns to news media, joins Aap News as president". Daily Pakistan (newspaper). 11 September 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Punjab interim CM: Najam Sethi's name approved". The Express Tribune (newspaper). 26 March 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Sethi selects five-member Punjab cabinet". The News International (newspaper). 1 April 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  7. ^ "The good ol' bad days". The Friday Times (newspaper). Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Ann K. Cooper (10 May 1999). "Veteran Journalist Najam Sethi Arrested". Committee to Protect Journalists website. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  9. ^ "1999 Awards – Announcement". The Committee to Protect Journalists website. 1999. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e "1999 Awards – Announcement – International Press Freedom Awards". The Committee to Protect Journalists website. 1999. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Further information on UA 107/99 (ASA 33/11/99, 14 May 1999) and follow-up (ASA 33/13/99, 21 May 1999) – Prisoner of conscience/fear of torture". Amnesty International. 3 June 1999. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  12. ^ a b Peter Popham (20 July 1999). "My feudal lords Amnesty honoured him with its Journalism Under Threat award, but in Pakistan Najam Sethi is still persecuted". The Independent.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  13. ^ Philip Reeves (12 December 2008). "Taliban Angered By Pakistani Journalist's Writings". National Public Radio (US website). Archived from the original on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Pakistani Editor Awarded 2009 Golden Pen of Freedom". World Association of Newspapers. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Red mist (Red Mosque upheaval)". The Economist.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 26 July 2008. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Najam Sethi receives death threat from Pak militants for publishing cartoon". Hindustan Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 26 July 2008. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Najam Sethi takes oath as caretaker Punjab CM". Dawn (newspaper). 27 March 2013. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Shahbaz Sharif to take oath as Punjab CM on June 6: Najam Sethi". The Express Tribune (newspaper). 26 May 2013. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  19. ^ Khawar Ghumman (17 February 2014). "The story Of '35 punctures'". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Najam Sethi appointed acting PCB chairman". Dawn (newspaper). Associated Press of Pakistan. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  21. ^ "A Princess Of Our Times (Profile of his wife Jugnu Mohsin)". Financial Express (newspaper). 29 August 2004. Retrieved 29 July 2020.

External linksEdit

Political offices

Chief Minister of Punjab

Preceded by
Shehbaz Sharif
27 March 2013 – 6 June 2013
Succeeded by
Shehbaz Sharif