Pakistani journalists’ group vows to fight for press freedom

According to a committee of journalists, the media in Pakistan is facing increasing censorship, threats, and intimidation, posing a threat to press freedom.

According to the government, there are no restrictions on journalists in the region.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has a long history of being a dangerous place for journalists. According to The Dawn, Pakistan’s English-language newspaper, there were 148 confirmed assaults or abuses against journalists in Pakistan from May 2020 to April 2021, an improvement over previous years.

There were six killings, seven attempted assassinations, five kidnappings, 25 journalist arrests or detentions, 15 robberies, and 27 court lawsuits filed against journalists, according to the study. 

The paper said in an editorial on World Press Freedom Day that the scope for journalism in Pakistan is dwindling, and that “a media in chains cannot keep the influential to account and represent the public interest as it is supposed to do.”

Journalists have long been persecuted in Pakistan. It was ranked ninth on the annual Global Impunity Index published by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2020, which assesses countries where journalists are killed on a daily basis and their murderers go free. Bangladesh, Russia, and India, according to the CPJ, are ahead of Pakistan. Despite the fact that the Pakistani government claims to respect freedom of expression, human rights campaigners often accuse Pakistan’s military and intelligence services of threatening and assaulting journalists.

President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists said on Monday that freedom of the press is their hallmark and they“will not surrender this cause at any cost.” They said that journalists were already facing wage cuts and that thousands had lost their jobs.

According to Mazhar Abbas, a regular reporter for Pakistan’s independent Geo Television, media restrictions and assaults on journalists have escalated in recent years. He claims that the state has not yet prosecuted anyone involved in the kidnapping or intimidation of journalists.

He said that the country’s media regulation body had given over 12,000 notices to journalists, publishers, and news outlets. According to Abbas, the media in Pakistan is subjected to censorship, for which the government employs a variety of methods, including informing the media through the media regulatory body what can and cannot be published. If press advice is not followed, news outlets are taken off the air by the media control agency, he added. 

Pakistan’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, said in a statement that the government considers press freedom as a “fundamental, political, and civil right.”

He did not react to the accusations made by the journalists’ association’s representatives.

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