About the author

Javed Jabbar is Chairman and Chief Executive, JJ Media (Pvt.) Ltd., Karachi, Pakistan.  The firm is dedicated to producing distinctive content for diverse media.

A former Senator & Federal Minister of Pakistan, he takes an active interest in diverse fields including international affairs, voluntary work for rural and urban development, the environment, social issues and mass media. 

He is associated with conflict resolution and co-operation initiatives between Pakistan and India and in South Asia and is a member of the longest-running (non-media reported) Pakistan-India Track-II process known as the Neemrana Dialogue (since 1992).

As part of his voluntary work, in 2008/2009, he was re-elected (for 2009-2012) as one of the four global Vice Presidents of IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature, headquartered in Switzerland, the world’s largest and oldest environment organization. IUCN is the only environment organization with official observer status at the United Nations. He also served for over 4 years as Chairman of the Pakistan National Committee of IUCN, representing 24 Governmental and non-Governmental organizations of Pakistan.

He has represented Pakistan at UN conferences in New York and in several other countries.  As Personal Representative of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, he was elected Co-chairman of the Planning Committee for the World Summit on Children, September 1990 at the UN, the first social sector summit in history.

As Minister, he has drafted several progressive laws and policies for development and reform in different fields, including the PEMRA Ordinance 2000-2002 (which he originally drafted for the Caretaker Cabinet in February 1997) that introduced private radio & TV channels to Pakistan in 2002.  He also conducted nation-wide consultations in 2000 for the formulation of the Freedom of Information Ordinance eventually enforced in 2002. 

In 1995, he challenged the arbitrary misuse of executive power by the Government (during Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s second term of office) by which, without giving public notice and a fair opportunity to all interested citizens to also participate in the process, an exclusive monopoly for the first-ever (sole) private TV channel and FM radio channel in the country was awarded to a favourite of the then-Government.  He drafted a public interest petition contending that the air waves of a country are public property and that any monopoly, specially one that was granted in a non-transparent manner, violated fundamental rights of speech and expression.  The senior political personality of Pakistan, Dr. Mubashar Hasan also became a co-petitioner.

A full Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah heard the arguments of Javed Jabbar presented in person by the petitioner who is not a professionally qualified lawyer.  The respondents were represented by one of the Pakistan’s most eminent lawyers, Mr. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada.  The Supreme Court observed that the issues raised in the public interest petition were of extreme importance and were unprecedented in Pakistan’s judicial history.  The petition was admitted for regular hearing.

Only a few months later, after the dismissal of the second Government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Javed Jabbar was appointed to serve as Minister in the Caretaker Government.   Even though he was Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, in view of his special interest in media issues, the Cabinet asked him to draft the first-ever law for establishing private, independent TV and radio channels in Pakistan on the basis of an open, transparent process giving fair opportunity to all eligible citizens to apply for licences.

The Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance (EMRA) was promulgated by the Caretaker Government on 14th February 1997.  However, the elected second Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not convert the EMRA Ordinance into an Act of Parliament within the stipulated 4 months.  The law therefore lapsed.  When General Pervez Musharraf appointed Javed Jabbar as Advisor on National Affairs and Information in November 1999, the original EMRA law was circulated for public opinion and, with some amendments, approved by the Cabinet during 2000.  It was eventually enforced in 2002, subsequent to Javed Jabbar’s resignation from the Cabinet in October 2000.

In 2003, when General Pervez Musharraf promulgated an Ordinance banning unsuccessful candidates for election to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies in the 2002 elections from contesting for election to the Senate of Pakistan in 2003, Javed Jabbar challenged the Ordinance as being violative of fundamental rights and submitted the petition to the Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Sheikh Riaz Hussain heard arguments in favour of the petition submitted by the petitioner in person and by Mr. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada who graciously agreed to appear on behalf of the petitioner on a gratis pro bono basis.  Other unsuccessful candidates joined the petition and submitted their own similar petitions.  The Supreme Court eventually held the Ordinance to be unlawful and allowed all eligible citizens to contest for the Senate.

He regularly addresses global, regional and national conferences on a range of subjects. Serves as visiting lecturer at major professional and higher education institutions including the National Defence University, Islamabad, Virtual University (for which 45 lectures on media, globalization and aspects of Pakistan have been used for distance learning since 2005) and for overseas centres.

The Human Rights Society of Pakistan presented him with a Gold Medal in May 2008 for outstanding voluntary public service.

In 2008, he has written and produced a new Pakistani film for international cinema titled: “Ramchand Pakistani”.  The film is based on true events and depicts the imprisonment of a Pakistani Hindu child and his father in an Indian prison.  The film is directed by his daughter Mehreen Jabbar.  The film has won 5 international awards and 2 national awards and has been acclaimed at over 40 international film festivals.  The film also won the prestigious International Critics Prize from the International Federation of Film Critics in July, 2008, in New Delhi.

Thirteen books and monographs comprising his writings and material compiled/edited by him on a range of subjects have been previously published to highly laudatory reviews. “Pakistan: unique origins, unique destiny” is his first full-length book.

He was elected to the Senate of Pakistan and served for a 6-year term from 1985 to 1991. He has served as Minister in three Federal Cabinets of Pakistan.

As Adviser on National Affairs to General Pervez Musharraf and as Minister of Information and Media Development in his Cabinet (1999-2000).

As Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources (1996-97) in the Caretaker Government of President Farooq Leghari and Prime Minister Malik Meraj Khalid.

As Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (1988-89), & later for Science & Technology (1989-90) in Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s first Cabinet. 

For about the past 30 years, he devotes most of his working time to voluntary public service as founder or member of several development and welfare organizations, which are engaged in over 2000 villages and towns in all 4 provinces of Pakistan. He has also co-founded, and is associated with, several leading think-tanks and research bodies. 

Links to the organizations with which he is closely associated are listed separately on this website.

He was the founding Secretary-General and the Senior Vice President of the Millat Party, (established in 1998) until its merger in 2004 with the Pakistan Muslim League (Q).  However, he opposed the merger and did not join the PML (Q).  Since 2004, he has remained an individual independent political analyst who is not a member of any political party.

He is the first Parliamentarian from Pakistan to be elected by members representing parliaments of over 112 countries, as Chairman of an Inter-Parliamentary Union body (in 1990 in Uruguay, South America).

He has written and directed a wide range of prize-winning films, including several documentaries and advertising commercials.  He also wrote, produced and directed the first English language feature length film of Pakistan (1976), acclaimed at overseas film festivals and titled: “Beyond the Last Mountain”.  This was the first feature film of the Pakistani cinema in which women were portrayed in a realistic, gender sensitive mode and in which well-educated women acted in leading roles.

He founded and led for about 20 years up to 1988, MNJ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd., one of Asia’s and Pakistan’s leading trend-setting advertising and mass communication firms.  He wrote and devised some of the most creative and effective marketing and advertising campaigns in Pakistan.  He has trained and mentored dozens of young advertising and marketing practitioners who, after their work at MNJ, went on to become successful and reputed professionals in advertising, media, journalism, management and marketing.

He was elected Chairman of Adasia 89, the 16th Asian Advertising Congress held in Lahore in 1989 attended by over 800 leading advertising and media specialists from around the world and Pakistan  Adasia 89 was described as a most memorable event by both overseas visitors and Pakistanis. 

He is the first communications specialist of Pakistan to be invited to serve as Trustee and Director of the International Institute of Communications in London.  He is founding chairman, South Asian Media Association (1991, Colombo), founder of the Citizens’ Media Commission of Pakistan (December 1997) and founding Co-convenor of the South Asian Editors’ Forum (1999, Colombo and Kathmandu). 

Extensive association with the media and information sector includes writing, producing, directing and presenting material for TV, radio, print and cinema. He was the Chairman of the first South East Asian and South Asian Information Technology Conference (SEARC 94) held in Pakistan in 1994.

He has a long association with the promotion of women’s empowerment and through his work in mass communications, public affairs and grass-roots development.  This includes opening of non-formal girls’ primary schools; formal secondary schools; teachers’ training; provision of mobile health care for women & children in remote areas; micro-finance and rights advocacy, specially political and civil rights, & leadership capacity building.

He is the husband of Mrs. Shabnam Jabbar, a private entrepreneur.  They have a daughter, the independent filmmaker, Mehreen Jabbar (www.mehreenjabbar.com) and a son, Barrister Kamal Jabbar (www.kamalkjabbar.com) and daughter-in-law Zainab Jabbar.

He is the son of the late Ahmed Abdul Jabbar, a senior official of the Government of Pakistan who earlier, before 1947, served an official of the Government of the Nizam of Hyderabad Deccan in South Asia.  His father was a widely-read scholar of history and current affairs.  His mother was the late Zain Mahal Khursheed, daughter of Sharif Muhammad Ali, the first Indian to serve as Head of the city Police of Madras, Tamil Nadu.  His mother was a highly educated woman who also devoted many years of service in the cause of spiritualism and promoting the values of sufism.

Born in 1945, he is a graduate in International Relations from the University of Karachi.