On May 3, as we observed World Press Freedom Day, the situation of the media in Pakistan is once again discussed. This year’s global theme, “Information as a Public Good,” is a call to action to affirm the value of information as a public good and to investigate what can be done in the production, distribution, and reception of content to strengthen journalism, advance transparency, and empower people while leaving no one behind. All countries in the globe should be concerned about this issue. It acknowledges how the changing communications system affects our health, human rights, democracy, and long-term development.
Freedom Network, a media watchdog, released its annual State of Pakistan Press Freedom report for 2021 on this day. This research examines the state of the media in our country, as well as the obstacles that journalists face in their profession. This year’s report, like every year, contains some fascinating facts. To begin with, it indicates that, in general, Islamabad has emerged as the riskiest and most dangerous area in Pakistan to practise journalism during the period under consideration, with 34 percent of the infractions (51 out of 148 total incidents) occurring in the federal capital. Sindh came in second with 26% of the infractions (38 incidents), and Punjab came in third with 20% of the violations (29 cases). Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) came in second with 9 percent (13 instances), followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) with 6 percent (9 cases), and Balochistan with 5%. (8 cases). Gilgit-Baltistan was found to have committed no breaches (G-B). The previous few years have been very difficult. The recently deposed PTI government used its social media outreach to disastrous effect, stifling mainstream media more than any civilian government in the country’s history.
Even well-respected senior journalists who were critical of the organization’s performance would face an online mob lynching by troll armies who would use the canard of “fake news” to smear and discredit them. The onslaught of online abuse directed at female journalists was especially troubling, as it aimed to shame them into silence by using sexualized stereotypes and character assassination. Meanwhile, the government’s establishment backers micromanaged news coverage on a granular level, employing coercive measures not seen since the military rule of Gen Ziaul Haq.
According to the results of the Freedom Network’s most recent annual report, the state and its officials are Pakistan’s “largest threat actor” when it comes to targeting the media. Between May 2021 and April 2022, it was suspected of being the perpetrator in 41% of at least 86 attacks on the media and its practitioners, according to the organisation.
Another important conclusion was that Pakistan’s capital, which is home to some of the country’s most guarded sites, was “the riskiest and most deadly place to practise journalism.” Sindh came in second place. Digital media journalists paid the biggest price for their job, with two of them among the four journalists killed during the period under consideration. The PML-N, which has a significant role in the ruling coalition, must now demonstrate that it would not only reverse the PTI government’s curtailment of media freedom, but also its own efforts to regulate the press through controversial legislation
Freedom Network, a media watchdog, released its annual State of Pakistan Press Freedom report for 2021 on this day.