The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has released “Pakistan Media Freedom Report – 2021”, according to which the situation of media freedom has gone worse compared to the previous two years.
The report has been compiled under the supervision of CPNE’s Press Freedom and Monitoring Committee in the light of information acquired directly as well as material collected from various media outlets and websites.
Noting that conditions related to media in Pakistan which further deteriorated in 2021, the report expressed concerns over increasing tactics aimed at stifling the freedom of media, freedom of expression and the right to access to information.
In 2021 alone, the report revealed, at least five journalists lost their lives in the line of duty in the country, including Karachi-based young 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.Following 2020, the year 2021 has also been an extremely difficult year for journalists, media workers, and media organizations in Pakistan in different ways.
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression remained under severe pressure and faced a myriad of challenges during the previous year, the report stated.
Moreover, it went on to say, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not only several journalists lost their lives, but it also plunged the media houses into deep financial crises.
Different governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations and state organizations, have reportedly, continuously attempted to keep Journalist community under pressure through their direct and indirect, and intolerant behavior and tactics.The report feared that the number of journalists, who were harassed, tortured and killed in the line of duty last year, could be higher.
It especially highlighted the gruesome murder of Nazim Jokhio, who shared a video of alleged Arab hunters engaged in illegal hunting on the northern outskirt of Karachi on November 3rd, 2021.
The hunters’ local feudal hosts, demanded the removal of the video from social media; on refusal, Jokhio was abducted and brutally murdered and his body was dumped in the bushes, the report states.
A number of Journalists had to face life attempts, threats, lawsuits, and telephone calls from “unknown numbers”, in addition to online harassment on various occasions.
Family members of the effected journalists were also subjected to physical and mental torture, it added.
While performing their assigned tasks, Ajay Lalwani, Abdul Wahid Raseeni, Shahid Zehri, Nazim Jokhio and Mohammad Zada Agarwal lost their lives. The police and other state institutions, including the FIA, registered cases against several journalists during 2021.
In a desire to control media “by hook or by crook”, the government continued to pursue its policy of enforcing the “most” controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA) law, taking several shows and hosts off air, getting them expelled from their organizations, and removing a significant number of genuine and authentic newspapers from the state media list.