Press freedom in Pakistan deteriorated in 2021: Report

The Council of Pakistani Newspaper Editors (CPNE) has released a report to highlight how much press freedom has deteriorated in 2021 compared to the previous two years.

In the report titled “Pakistan Media Freedom Report – 2021”, CPNE on Sunday expressed concern over tactics aimed at stifling media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information, reports The Express Tribune.

In 2021 alone, the report revealed that five journalists were killed in the line of duty, including Karachi-based social media activist and community journalist Nazim Jokhio, who was abducted and mercilessly killed.

At least nine journalists have lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic, while two journalists have taken their own lives due to persistent unemployment, he added.

He said that after 2020, the year 2021 has become an extremely difficult year for journalists, media workers and media organizations in Pakistan as press freedom and freedom of expression remain under pressure.

He went on to say that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, not only have several journalists lost their lives, but it has also plunged media houses into deep financial crises.

The report adds that different institutions continually try to keep the journalist community under pressure through direct and indirect tactics.

The CPNE also noted that the number of journalists who were harassed, tortured and killed in the line of duty last year could be higher, according to the report.

The report pointed out that many journalists have faced attempted murder, threats, lawsuits and phone calls from “unknown numbers”, in addition to online harassment on various occasions, The Express Tribune reported.

The family members of the journalists concerned were also subjected to physical and mental torture, he added.

The CPNE also mentioned that state institutions had filed lawsuits against several journalists in 2021 and explained how the government had applied a controversial media law to control the media “by hook or by crook”.

Speaking of finances, the CPNE mentioned that the financial difficulties of the press companies predate the pandemic, which has only aggravated the crisis even further.

Sadly, the report laments, Pakistan is one of the countries where violence against journalists is on the rise and no murderers have been brought to justice.

Over the past year, she has observed that journalists and media outlets have repeatedly been subject to censorship and restraint.

He then mentioned notable journalists who were harassed or tortured in 2021.

The report also mentions the government’s attempts to stifle social media, including blocking 19,000 accounts and repeated bans on TikTok, according to the report.


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