Dawn.com started its life as the digital edition of daily Dawn. It initially had a text only format in which the newspaper was simply reproduced digitally – without any distinction between various news pages/sections. The contents were also not searchable by date or by topic.
This format continued for close to a decade but in 2007, Abbas Nasir, the then editor Dawn, engaged a trio of BBC-trained journalists to revamp and restructure it in line with the requirements of a proper online platform. This trio included Musadiq Sanwal who was appointed the editor of the website. Since then Dawn.com has become one of the most reliable and trustworthy news sources for millions of readers both in Pakistan and abroad.
Dawn.com has won praise and attracted criticism almost in equal measures. Its faithful followers eulogize it for its persistent coverage of human rights in general and the rights of women and children in particular. Many of its multimedia projects – such as the one on a terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar in 2016, where around 140 children were killed, has received worldwide recognition.
On the other hand, its coverage of politics and regional relations is often seen by many in Pakistan as being too soft on certain politicians and too peaceable vis-à-vis India. Sometimes the website is also seen as too elitist, westernised and out of touch with the ground realities in Pakistan.
Media Companies / Groups
Dawn.com is is owned by Pakistan Herald Publications (private) Limited which in turn is owned by two other firms, Haroon Sons (Private) Limited and Pyramid Media (Private) Limited. The former owns 4.14% shares in Pakistan Herald Publications (private) Limited and the latter own 85.71% shares in it.
Most of the rest of the shares in Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited are owned by Amber Haroon Saigol (0.10%) and her daughters, Zeinan Rawjee (4.51%) and Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani (5.53%).
Haroon Sons (Private) Limited nine shareholders: Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani (82.28%), Amber Haroon Saigol (9.20%), Zeina Saigol Rawjee (5%), Ashghar Contractor (2%), Zia Mahmood Ali (1%), Hameed Haroon (0.40%); the remaining 0.12% is shared equally by Shabbir Gangat, Ghulam Mirza and Abdul Aziz.
Pyramid Media (Private) Limited is owned by Amber Haroon Saigol (55.10%) and her daughter Zeina Rawji (44.90%). Therefore, Herald Publications is mostly controlled by Amber Haroon Saigol, who has through the two above mentioned companies around 47.70%, Zeina Rawji with 43.20% and Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani with 8.94% of shares.
Affiliated Interests Founder
Having started his professional career back in the late 1970s as the deputy chief executive of Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited that owns daily Dawn, he took over as the Chief Executive Officer of the company in the late 1990s. He subsequently has served many stints as the president of the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), an association that represents the country’s newspaper owners.
Over the last forty years, Hameed Haroon has started many publications. These include an evening newspaper, daily Star, an advertising magazine, Aurora, and a technology magazine, Spider, (that closed down in 2015). He also changed the company’s flagship magazine, Herald, in the early 1980s from a society journal into a current affairs one in. Since then, the magazine has become one of the most credible sources of news, views and reviews in the country.
A patron of arts and culture, Hameed Haroon has played a major role in the restoration and revival of many historical buildings in Karachi. He also hosts a music show on City FM 89 radio station and has compiled and published collectors’ editions of books on world renowned painter Sadequain and globally famous poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz – among some others.
Hameed Haroon’s grandfather, Haji Sir Abdullah Hussain Haroon, was a prominent businessman and politician in the British India. He was a member of the Karachi Municipality twice (1913-16 and 1921-34), a member of the Indian National Congress (1917-19) and the president of Sindh Provincial Muslim League (1920-30).
Hameed Haroon’s paternal uncle, Mehmoud Abdullah Haroon, founded the Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited that owns Daily Dawn and a number of other publications. Mehmoud Abdullah Haroon was also the mayor of Karachi (1954-55), federal interior minister (1978-84), federal defence minister (June-December 1988), governor of Sindh province (1990-1993 and 1994-95) and the co-founder of an English language daily Khaleej Times, launched in 1978 from Dubai.
Hameed Haroon’s other paternal uncle, Yusuf Abdullah Haroon, briefly worked as chief editor of Dawn in 1966 after its long serving editor Altaf Hussain became a minister in the cabinet of Pakistan’s first military dictator General Ayub Khan. Yusuf Abdullah Haroon was also a member of the last central legislative assembly of the British India, Jinnah’s aide-de-camp, the governor of West Pakistan (March–September 1969) and chief minister of Sindh province (1949-50).
Hameed Haroon’s father Said Abdullah Haroon set up Eastern Film Studios in Karachi in the mid-1950s. He was also the founding editor of Eastern Film, a monthly magazine launched in 1959 to cover Pakistan’s nascent cinema.
Hameed Haroon’s father and uncles – Yusuf Abdullah Haroon, Mehmoud Abdullah Haroon and Said Abdullah Haroon -- also cofounded Haroon Oils, an importer and distributor of motor oils and lubricants, in 1964.
Hameed Haroon’s cousin Amber Haroon Saigol is the chairperson of Dawn Media Group which includes Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited and many other companies.
Hameed Haroon’s elder brother, Hussain Haroon, was Pakistan’s foreign minister (May-August 2018), Pakistan’s permanent representative in the United Nations (2008-12) and the speaker of the provincial assembly of Sindh (1985–86).
Affiliated Interests Ceo
is the CEO of Dawn. See above for more.
is the founder and CEO of Xiber.com, Pakistan’s first internet company, that created a website for daily Dawn – initially known as Dawn Internet Edition. His company also set up DesiStore.com, Pakistan’s first online trading platform.
Prior to creating XIBER.com, he set up and later sold Wavetech, Pakistan’s first commercial microwave technology provider. He has also served on the board of directors of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, one of the largest telephone and internet service providers in the country, and was a member of the National Tax Administration Reform Task-force in 2000s.
He received a doctorate in nuclear engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief
He has been a journalist and researcher since 2010. He also created Jay’s Toons – a now-defunct online comic series commenting on political and social dynamics of Pakistan.
Before joining Dawn Media Group, he was instrumental in creating the website of English daily Express Tribune – www.tribune.com.pk-- which became Pakistan’s leading online news source soon after its launch.
He took over Dawn.com after the death of its first editor Musadiq Sanwal in 2015 and has changed both the hierarchy of the website’s contents and its layout design, making it more user friendly and offering the readers a wide variety of reading and viewing materials.
Jahanzaib Haq has increased the focus on promoting Dawn.com contents through various social media platforms, making it one of the most accessed online news source in the country. He has also made the website a multimedia platform, with written contents often being complemented by audio-visual materials.
In his capacity as Dawn Media Group’s Chief Digital Strategist, he has expanded the group’s online footprint by setting up the websites of Dawn News television, Aurora magazine and City FM 89 radio station as well.
Jahanzaib Haq writes regularly on internet freedom and does research on the state of the right to expression and information as well as human rights in relation to cyberspace.
Affiliated Interests other important people
Before he became Dawn.com’s first editor, the website was a digital version of daily Dawn – one without a proper layout design and a clearly defined news hierarchy. He oversaw its transition from Dawn Internet Edition to Dawn.com.
He set up its own newsroom, separate from daily Dawn, which worked round the clock to publish news updates as and when needed, designed its page content layout, determined the hierarchy of its contents and linked it to other publications and platforms of Dawn Media Group such as Herald magazine and Dawn News television.
Born in 1962, Musadiq Sanwal studied at the National College of Arts in Lahore but never graduated; he had to leave the college due to his political activities. He took an active part in student agitations against the military government of General Ziaul Haq – that ruled Pakistan through most of the 1980s – and was attacked by a right-wing students’ organization, Islami-Jamiat-Talaba, for his left-wing views.
In the late 1980s, Musadiq Sanwal shifted to Karachi where he did many odd jobs before joining an advertising agency. He was also a singer, a theatre actor, a playwright and a poet and he employed all these abilities to earn a prominent space for himself on Karachi’s cultural scene.
In the late 1990s, Musadiq Sanwal went to London to work for BBC and returned only to join Dawn.com in 2007. He passed away in 2015 due to lung cancer.
Revenue (in Mill. $)
USD 28 Million / PKR 3.03 Billion
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
USD 0.36 Million / PKR 38 Million
Advertising (in % of total funding)
USD 22 Million / PKR 2.33 Billion (78.57%)
The outlet was sent information request on 15 January 2019 through a courier company as well as by email. It did respond after a reminder was couriered on 1st February 2019 and emailed on 4 February 2019 but the information provided was brief and sketchy. Its financial and administrative information is also not available online.
The financial information used in this media outlet profile has been obtained from a report that Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited submitted to the SECP about the financial year that started on July 2017 and ended on June 30, 2018.
The revenue and profit mentioned above also pertain to the whole of Pakistan Herald Publications (Private) Limited (which also owns some other news publications) and not to Dawn.com alone.