Monday May 27, 2024

Pakistan one of 'most dangerous' countries for journalists: Aemend

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says journalism in Pakistan is "under threat"

By Web Desk
May 03, 2024
Members of the Quetta Union of Journalists protests against the arrest of journalists on the call of the Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), at the Quetta press club on Thursday, January 26, 2023. — PPI
Members of the Quetta Union of Journalists protests against the arrest of journalists on the call of the Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), at the Quetta press club on Thursday, January 26, 2023. — PPI

The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (Aemend) painted a stark picture of media freedom in Pakistan, saying that the South Asian country is one of the "most dangerous" countries for journalists.

The statement comes as the world commemorates Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of journalism and freedom of expression.

Aemend said that many journalists have been "martyred or disabled in the line of duty" in Pakistan.

It said that journalists and media outlets in Pakistan are facing severe challenges, expressing its determination to continue the constitutional and legal struggle for freedom of expression in the country, and face unfavorable circumstances head-on.

"State and non-state actors are imposing restrictions on television programs, shutting down broadcasts, pressurising for the termination of journalists, creating unnecessary pressures and making illegal demands. Such tactics are increasing by the day," it added.

Aemend added that character assassination of journalists, especially female journalists, is part of this campaign. It noted that the purpose of all these tactics is to suppress journalists and restrict freedom of expression.

The statement added that the slapping of notices to journalists by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions, illegal restrictions on social media, shutting down of mobile phone and internet services on important occasions, restricting the coverage of targeted political and non-political activities, and the issuance of illegal notices by Pemra are actions aimed at depriving the public of their right to information, which is against the spirit of democratic societies.

"There is a long list of journalists' kidnappings, forced disappearances, and false cases, which reflect the challenges faced by media workers in the country," it added.

Journalism in Pakistan under threat: IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that journalism in Pakistan is "under threat". 

On the day, the IFJ has also launched its 22nd annual South Asia Press Freedom Report, according to which, journalists have become "punching bags" in the fight between former prime minister Imran Khan and the establishment.

The report said that 60 journalists were issued legal notices while dozens were arrested and remain in custody.

It said that about eight journalists were charged with sedition, terrorism and incitement to violence, adding that most of the cases were against journalists who were supporters of Imran Khan and his party.

As per the report, access to information and freedom of expression were restricted while the government failed to create a safety commission to protect journalists.

"The economic situation of the media in Pakistan was also bad. People were fired from the media and their wages were cut," added the IFJ report.

President seeks safety, security of journalists

President Asif Ali Zardari, in a statement, emphasised the need to initiate measures for the safety and security of journalists to enable them to freely report on important issues, without fear.

“The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the freedom of the press, however, it is also the responsibility of the media to abide by journalistic ethics and report responsibly and accurately, keeping in view the national interest,” the president said.

President Zardari also stressed the need to provide an enabling environment free of intimidation or harassment to journalists so that they could freely express their opinions.

The president said that this year's theme underscored the importance of a free press in creating awareness and educating the people about climate change and its impacts on human life and the environment.

Govt to make all-out efforts to uplift media: PM

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assured that the incumbent government would make all-out efforts to uplift the media industry and resolve the issues confronting it.

The prime minister, in his message on World Press Freedom Day annually, also reiterated the resolve for government’s maximum cooperation to protect the rights of media industry as well as the media workers.

Paying tribute to the journalists, media workers, writers and cameramen, the premier said the male and female journalists who sacrificed their lives during coverage in Gaza were the heroes of humanity.

The PM also urged the collective role of media and other stakeholders to create a conducive atmosphere to ensure smooth media functioning. He said the government firmly believed that freedom of media and expression provided guarantee for democratic durability.