Freedom of Press in Pakistan, If and Buts

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Pakistan has become one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, Pakistan has slipped twelve places in the world rankings regarding freedom of press.

According to the report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international organization of journalists, after demotion Pakistan was ranked 157th out of 180 countries. In 2021, Pakistan was ranked 145 on the list of the Paris-based media watchdog. This report was released on Press Freedom Day.

The 2022 version of the World Press Freedom Index, which surveys the state of news coverage in 180 nations and regions, highlights the terrible impacts of news and data chaos – the impacts of a globalized and unregulated online data space that empowers fake news and propaganda.

Senior Journalist and Anchorperson Arshad Sharif during telephonic conversation with EAT news said that he is being stalked, suspicious movement has been observed around his residence and an unknown state of fear is being created in his surroundings. Mr. Arshad Sharif said “all those journalists are being influenced and targeted by the current government who are questioning international interference or conspiracy against former Prime Minister Imran Khan to remove him from his office. According to the constitution of Pakistan, freedom of speech is the fundamental right of every citizen, but it is strange that journalist’s community is facing threats, intimations, surveillance, harassment, late night interruptions and disturbance to their homes. Law courts are providing relief to the journalist as everyone is looking to courts in the country because they are a ray of hope. Local and international journalist organizations are raising their voices against such kind irregularities and threats. If the government continues with the same policies and practices, I am afraid in near future freedom of press and freedom of expression will fall under the dark shadows of black laws. Although there is a difference of opinion among journalists and journalist organizations on different political issues but as far freedom of speech is concerned all stakeholders are on the same page. If any journalist brings some exclusive and investigative news no one (including government, any political party or any institution) has the right to influence the news material and news content produced by the journalist. Suppression and suspension of the fundamental rights or any kind of censorship on media is not acceptable”.

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Eat News discussed same issue with Afzal Butt, the former president National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad, he declared it as unfortunate that when any political party is in opposition its point of view and policies are very lenient about media but same party when came into power, it changes its point of view about freedom of press.

While speaking to Eat News, Mr. Butt said, “No doubt current allied government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stood shoulder by shoulder along with the journalist’s community for the freedom of press during PTI regime. Members of these political parties participated in the protests logged by the NPC, even standing side by side with us in parliament house and in law court. We were expecting the change in regime in the country will bring prosperity for the media. Pakistan is a complex country and society regarding Media freedom. Usually, whenever we raised our voice about different issues the previous government (PTI) considered it as a political move against them. But we also believe that every citizen and journalist is accountable to the constitution of the country, we never opposed the laws of the land”.

“Whether, it is rain or sunshine, the journalist community faces threats from the different segments of the society which may include government officials, political parties, state organs, feudal lords, and mafias. It happens around the globe that if journalists will speak and write the truth, then they have to face the music. But above all it is important that journalists should remain impartial and never be spokesman of any political party”, former president national press club Afzal Butt further added.

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The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) served notices to renowned journalists in the country regarding the news material on-aired through different TV channels and published in newspapers. In a short interview with Eat News, Karachi Press Club President Fazil Jamili said “freedom of expression is actually freedom of denial. Freedom of expression will be fully protected at any cost”.

On Press Freedom Day, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) President Kazim Khan said in a statement that disagreement with editorial policy is the right of everyone but it is not possible to impose one’s will on an institution by force.

As far as the RSF report is concerned, generally, RSF uses the indicators which are based on the quantitative survey of media freedom violations and abuse against reporters/ editors (the journalists) and media. For such purposes RSF collects the data with questionnaires from hundreds of experts on media freedom.

In RSF recent addition it is said that “Ever since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has oscillated between civil society’s quest for greater press freedom and the ruling elite’s constant reassertion of extensive control over the media, but rifts make the country difficult for a common journalist”. 

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Muhammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.


Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.
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