Politics

7 Pakistan journalists killed in last one year: Watchdog

Islamabad, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- Journalists in Pakistan working in the atmosphere of intimidation and harassment that adversely affects the freedom of expression in the country, a media watchdog said on Thursday, listing 91 cases, including seven murders of media practitioners in the last one year.

The Freedom Network, Pakistani non-profit monitoring the state of journalism in the country, revealed this in its annual report, “Murders, Harassment, and Assault: The Tough Wages of Journalism in Pakistan”.

According to the watchdog, between May 2019 and April 2020 some 91 attacks against journalists and freedom of the press were registered in Pakistan.

These include seven murders, 12 attempts to murder, two kidnappings, nine arrests by state forces, 10 physical assaults, 23 threats, 10 cases of censorship, and 10 court cases against scribes.

“The screws on media in Pakistan are being tightened through various means of censorship, including murders, threats, and harassment, resulting in increasing silence and erosion of public-interest journalism,” Iqbal Khattak, the executive director of Freedom Network, told EFE.

He alleged that none of the seven killings had been investigated, a common scenario in the over 130 murders of journalists in the country in recent decades, out of which only three had been solved, as per the non-profit’s data. Five scribes were killed in 2018.

According to the network, in 42 percent of the attacks against scribes, the victims or their family members suspected the involvement of the state, public institutions, or state officials.

Khattak said the attacks on media were resulting in self-censorship, as journalists were scared and the government had not taken any measures to ensure their security.

The activist held the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan responsible for the deteriorating freedom of the press in recent years, alleging it had repeatedly sought to suppress critical media, especially through the distribution of state advertising.

“You are with us or against us, that’s the line of the government,” Khattak said.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has described the situation of media in the country as “obscene”, citing examples like disruptions in the transmission of news channel Geo TV across the country.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party has accused critical journalists of being “anti-Pakistan” on Twitter, while Khan has repeatedly lashed out against his portrayal in the media.

The RSF has put Pakistan at the 145th rank – three places lower than in 2019 – in its 2020 press freedom index. EFE-EPA

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