Journalists’ Safety -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Journalists’ Safety

Pakistan Press Foundation


The abduction and torture of a journalist in Bannu sparked a massive wave of protests when the police refused to register an FIR. What happened to Gohar Wazir isn’t an isolated incident by any means. Media authoritarianism is the new normal in Pakistan. Previously, this practice was limited to the peripheries of the country-such as in the case of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, where reporters were told to refrain from saying anything that violates the official narrative. After several decades have learnt the value of self-censorship but at what cost?

But the latest attempts at curtailing press freedoms leave no one untouched. Amid the growing polarisation of both domestic policies and media space in Pakistan, successive governments have used their political clout to stifle all signs of dissent, as in Bannu. The second journalists toe out of line and contradict the state’s narrative, they are met with violence and repression. Attacks against the press have grown by 40 per cent in a single year. The law is often used as a smokescreen to restrict free speech and any criticism levied against the government, construed as sedition.

To make matters worse, last year, the government proposed creating a media development authority to lump social media and all other kinds of media together; giving the government free reign to censor online activity. The new law allowed the government to set up special “media tribunals” to punish news organisations that violate its code of conduct or publish content deemed fake news. Compared to the past, when we were, at least, able to point to the forces behind media repression, censorship now comes from a dark shadowy place that cannot be named or identified.

With journalists relentlessly attacked simply for doing their jobs, the rest of us must do our parts and speak up against violence. We cannot reasonably expect the people that have persistently denied all involvement with censoring the press to suddenly step up and support the journalists it routinely harasses and assaults.

Source: Daily Times


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