PAKISTAN : Surviving a violent year
The period under review has been bad for media in Pakistan. Between May 2014 and April 2015, the media in the country continued to face pressures from a variety of sources in line with the patterns from the preceding two years: from both State and non-State sources. However, media houses and media practitioners reported escalating levels of intimidation from the State. The escalation included pressures on the country’s largest media group – the Jang Group, reportedly the single largest employer of journalists in Pakistan. These measures included censorship; punishment and fines for alleged treason and blasphemy; heavy restrictions on broadcast through cable networks, and amending current laws or bringing news laws to restrict freedom of speech and access to information.
Working journalists also continued face attacks, including killings, physical assaults and threats from a variety of sources including government and opposition political parties, and religious, militant and banned armed groups. At least four journalists were killed in the period under review and another five arrested by the authorities or kidnapped by militants. At least one journalist mysteriously went missing from the troubled Balochistan province in November 2014 and remained missing at the time this report went to print. The silver lining for Pakistan this year included conviction and sentencing of one of the accused in the murder of journalist Wali Khan Babar. This was the first time the killer of one of the over 100 journalists and media workers killed in Pakistan over the past decade had been not only identified but also tried, convicted and arrested. This marked a small but important step in combating entrenched impunity against journalists in the country.
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