Truth and power

 
October 22, 2020

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has given a call for all journalists to protest against the situation they face in the country, and what is happening to the media. Indeed, it is...

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The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has given a call for all journalists to protest against the situation they face in the country, and what is happening to the media. Indeed, it is unfortunate that the journalists’ community, which forms a powerful bloc of individuals should have had to stay silent for so long. By most accounts, the crackdown on the media began almost two years ago, and has been continuing since then – although some media groups and journalists faced increased censorship even before and during Election 2018..

The PFUJ has asked other trade unions, civil activists and groups to join the journalists. Pakistan's journalists face a dual burden. In the first place their voice is being suppressed, making it impossible for the public to obtain the right to information ensured in the constitution to all citizens. Second, the space not being given to journalists makes it difficult for them to work even to live ordinary lives. Many who have seen the days of General Ziaul Haq say things are worse now than they were in those days, decades ago in the 1980s. Certainly it is time to act. For this, journalists will need support from other groups and be able to answer the often extremely acrimonious response that comes from the ruling elite and its supporters.

While there are journalists that work in trying circumstances, and very often are not even accorded respect in their own organisations, there are also examples such as that of Jang/Geo's Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman who remains in jail for nearly eight months and has refused to bow down to government pressure. In this post-truth world, most people simply blame the media for telling lies, which becomes all the more dangerous due to the silence of the mainstream media. This can mislead people and allow powerful lobbies to have a free hand with propaganda. Certainly, it is time journalists figured out a way to continue speaking truth to power – which is what journalism was always supposed to be. The failure of the government to clear the dues of newspapers and broadcast channels has also led to crippling conditions. This is simply intended to pressurize the media. At the moment, the Pakistani journalist continues to work and survive amidst the trauma of censorship, financial anxieties and constant fear.



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