Thursday June 20, 2024

Silencing dissent

By News Desk
May 27, 2024
Silencing dissent

This letter refers to the editorial ‘Orwellian law’ (May 23, 2024). I share the deep concerns raised in the editorial regarding the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024. The bill’s deceptive nature, masquerading as a civil law while criminalizing defamation, echoes a worrying trend. It evokes memories of past attempts to stifle dissent. This legislation, if replicated in other provinces, could create a chilling domino effect, silencing critical voices across the country. Journalists across Pakistan already operate under immense pressure. This bill further tightens the noose, blurring the lines between legitimate criticism and punishable offences. The bill empowers the ruling elite while jeopardizing the very existence of independent media outlets and even private social media accounts nationwide.

The lack of due process – the possibility of government shutdowns without a chance for defence – is a blatant attack on the democratic fabric of this nation. The Punjab government, led by Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, must acknowledge the near-unanimous opposition from credible media and civil society organizations across Pakistan. This attempt to silence dissent under the guise of safeguarding reputations is a dangerous step towards an Orwellian nightmare.

Majid Burfat