Press freedom at stake in Pakistan

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The report went on to say that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, not only several journalists lost their lives, but it also plunged the media houses into deep financial crises….reports Asian Lite News

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has released a report to highlight how press freedom deteriorated in 2021 as compared to the previous two years.

In the report titled “Pakistan Media Freedom Report – 2021”, the CPNE on Sunday expressed concerns over tactics aimed at stifling freedom of media, freedom of expression, and access to information, reports The Express Tribune.

In 2021 alone, the report revealed that five journalists were killed in the line of duty, including Karachi-based social media activist and community journalist Nazim Jokhio, who was abducted and killed mercilessly.

At least nine journalists lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, whereas two newsmen committed suicide due to the lingering unemployment, it added.

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It stated that following 2020, the year 2021 came to be an extremely difficult year for journalists, media workers, and media organisations in Pakistan as freedom of press and freedom of expression remained under pressure.

It went on to say that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, not only several journalists lost their lives, but it also plunged the media houses into deep financial crises.

The report added that different institutions continuously attempted to keep the journalist community under pressure through direct and indirect tactics.

CPNE also noted that the number of journalists who were harassed, tortured, and killed in the line of duty last year could be higher, the report said.

The report highlighted that many journalists had to face murder attempts, threats, lawsuits, and telephone calls from “unknown numbers”, in addition to online harassment on various occasions, The Express Tribune reported.

The family members of the affected journalists were also subjected to physical and mental torture, it added.

CPNE also mentioned that state institutions registered cases against several journalists during 2021 and elaborated how the government enforced a controversial media law to control the media “by hook or by crook”.

Talking about finances, CPNE mentioned that media houses’ financial woes precede the pandemic which only further aggravated the crisis.

Unfortunately, the report regretted, Pakistan is one of the countries, where violence against journalists is increasing and not even a single murderer has been brought to justice.

During the previous year, it observed that journalists and media institutions faced censorship and restraint on several occasions.

It went on to mention notable journalists who were harassed or tortured during 2021.

The report also mentioned the government’s attempts to stifle social media, including blocking 19,000 accounts and the repeated bans on TikTok, the report said.

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