By Irum Saleem
The champion of media freedom — Imran Khan — is painted now as media villain. And how all this happened is a sordid story of Pakistani media.
Media Mughal Mir Shakil ur Rehman who spent eight months in jail in a land case was finally acquitted and the big boss is not happy. Shakeel was the man who blindly supported Khan till 2013 polls. But when Khan came to power things changed.
This is one way to look things at and the other hard reality is that 10,000 journalists according to Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists were sacked during the last three years of Imran Khan rule.
The media freedom report compiled by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors issued recently has painted an abysmal picture of the realities of being a journalist in the country.
It highlights how, in the last year alone five journalists were killed in the line of duty and how overall attempts to stifle the media and block access to information have grown.
It talks about the ghastly kidnapping and murder of local journalist Nazim Jokhio, as well as the threats, lawsuits and attempted attacks on other journalists. Not only does it speak of the serious threats to the lives of media workers who report on sensitive and controversial issues, it documents how the pandemic, too, claimed the lives of nine journalists.
In the past year, the financial standing of media houses has also worsened. Two media workers took their own lives due to unemployment. The situation today, the report concludes, is worse than during the previous two years.
The report is a damning indictment of the state of freedom of press in the country, but it only just about captures the everyday hardships faced by journalists who risk their lives in mostly low-paid jobs to fulfil a critical role in our democracy.
Media workers, both field reporters and desk staff, are increasingly experiencing either harassment or financial hardship or both. They are being threatened, silenced and squeezed. Be it a prime time TV anchor or a beat reporter, the threats exist for everyone. Even media group owners are not immune to such harassments.
Dawn says all these examples point to an ugly truth, that the space for free speech and truthful accounts in our country is shrinking. Unfortunately, the ruling party has no concern for the media’s plight. “The prime minister has little sympathy for journalists under threat, and has spoken dismissively about serious cases such as the disappearances of journalists. His media advisers, too, are often in the limelight for trolling journalists on social media, or making unprofessional and personal comments about them.”
Khan like his predecessors will fail to control the media. PAK DESTINY