This year’s theme for the World Press Freedom Day – May 3 – was ‘Safe to speak: Securing freedom of expression in all media’. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that freedom of expression is an essential ingredient if individuals are to be empowered and is also one of the building-blocks of democratic process. As is witnessed on a daily basis in Pakistan, democracy has a long, slow gestation period and an excruciating birth. The coming elections are getting blanket coverage by a diverse media and a vibrant press. All of the above points to a healthy Fourth Estate – however, it is something of an illusion.
For working journalists Pakistan is the deadliest country in Asia. Six journalists have been killed so far this year, the latest in the bombing of an ANP election rally in Karachi. Two of his colleagues were seriously injured. It is a telling fact that no individual has ever been successfully prosecuted for the murder of a journalist, suggesting that there are powerful forces within the state that seek to suppress and stifle open and honest reporting. It is common for political pressure to be brought on individual journalists and media houses in attempts to manipulate them or divert probing criticism. YouTube remains blocked, and a powerful ‘people’s voice’ suppressed. Cable TV channels are pressured from time-to-time and state actors will plant or attempt to plant stories to their advantage, and to the disadvantage of their target – political or otherwise. There are press freedoms that are abused and there is irresponsible reporting, but nothing is perfect anywhere. With freedom comes responsibility, and we look forward to the growth of both in the coming year.
Source: The News