September 27, 1948
Despatch No. 428
The Secretary of State,
I have the honor to refer to the Embassy's telegram No. 475, dated September 24, 1948, regarding the issues
of TIME and NEWSWEEK containing the articles on the death of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, late Governor-General
of Pakistan. As stated in the referenced telegram, the Embassy did not feel that it could distribute the copies
of these two magazines sent here for distribution without causing serious embarrassment to the
United States Government.
The issues of the respective magazines were those of September 20. TIME's article was the most
offensive. It would be resented here on three points, in particular:
- It referred to the late Mr. Jinnah as a man of hate;
- The quoted references to Mr. Jinnah were all from Hindus or "enemies among the Moslems" and
- The last paragraph alleging that Pakistan was an "insolvent, disorganized" government which might
seek war as a way out to Pakistanis appeared obviously aimed at making Pakistan seem the aggressor
should any war break out between the two Dominions.
NEWSWEEK's article, referring to Jinnah as "humorless, intense, conceited, with a flashing one-track
mind" may touch the truth but to the people of Pakistan, sincerely grieved over the loss of their
leader, it would be a deep insult. NEWSWEEK's reference to the legend that he was "born a Hindu"
and its repetition of the fact that Jinnah did not adhere strictly to Muslim customs would also have
While the Embassy did not deem it wise to distribute NEWSWEEK because of the above mentioned
statements, it was with TIME that the Embassy was particularly disturbed. The Embassy neither asks
nor desires that American newspapers and magazines distort the truth in order to make a favorable
impression in this country. When an article such as that in TIME appears, however, which, in this
case, ignores the genuine devotion of 70.000.000 people to Mr. Jinnah; which ignores the quick
replacement of Mr. Jinnah by Mr. Nazimuddin, taken here as a symbol of the stability of Pakistan;
and which makes references to Pakistan's political and economic situation which are not founded on
fact, the Embassy does not feel it can be a party to the distribution of such material. The Embassy
further realizes that the Department can do little to change the policy of an American news
magazine; it would be helpful, however, to know why this particular organ pursues a policy consistently
critical and unfair to Pakistan.
In an endeavor to forestall any public reaction to the TIME article which might have arisen, a representative
of the Embassy called on Mr. Ahmed Ali, Director of Publications and Foreign Publicity, Government
of Pakistan, presented him with copies of the TIME and NEWSWEEK issues, and informed him that the
Embassy would not be a party to their distribution.
On September 25, Mr. Newsom, Information Officer of the Embassy, received a call from M. A. Zuberi,
assistant editor of DAWN. Mr. Zuberi said that he and Mr. Altaf Hussain, editor of DAWN, had seen TIME's
article and were thoroughly incensed and were considering writing an editorial on the subject. Mr. Zuberi
wanted to know if Mr. Newsom had any comment to make. Mr. Newsom told him that, in view of the fact that
very few copies of TIME came into Pakistan, and in view of the fact that the Embassy was not
distributing its usual copies, he felt there was no useful purpose to be served in writing an editorial;
it would only arouse local feeling unnecessarily. Mr. Zuberi said that, since DAWN went abroad, he
would be writing the editorial for the foreign readers. Mr. Newsom challenged what he considered a
weak argument. Further, Mr. Newsom told Mr. Zuberi that, if he did feel obliged to write on this subject,
he hoped that DAWN would make it clear that TIME was a completely free organ and did not in any way
represent the sentiments of the United States Government.
Whether as a result of this conversation or as a result of pressure from the Government of Pakistan, DAWN
did not mention the article and neither did any of the other English language newspapers. The Embassy
considers it particularly fortunate that this has gone - at least so far - relatively unnoticed in Pakistan.
The Embassy considers the distribution of TIME and NEWSWEEK ordinarily of benefit to the United States
Information program in Pakistan. When these magazines fail to give fair and objective treatment to
a subject so close to the emotions of the people of Pakistan, however, the Embassy has no choice
but to curtail the distribution. The concept that the press of a country does not necessarily represent
the views of the Government is not always understood in Pakistan.
Charles W. Lewis, Jr.,
Charge d'Affaires, a. i.
cc: Lahore, Bombay, Delhi, Culcutta, SOA, OII, London