Pakistan Ranks 145th in Press Freedom Index

The annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday that journalism was at least partly blocked in nearly three-quarters of the 180 countries surveyed.

Its World Press Freedom Index found 73 countries “totally blocked or seriously impeded” journalism, while it was “constrained” in 59 others, adding that many governments had used the pandemic to worsen repression. The RSF ranked Pakistan 145 in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. The RSF had ranked Pakistan 159/180 back in 2013. It scored Pakistan at +1.34 in 2021 from 45.52 in 2020.

According to the organisation 10 journalists and media assistants were killed in 2021 upto April, while it claimed that 416 journalists were imprisoned. According to RSF the Pakistani media, which have a long tradition of being very lively, have become a priority target for the authorities.

The influence on media has increased dramatically since Imran Khan became prime minister in July 2018. There have been many cases of brazen censorship. Distribution of newspapers has been interrupted. Media outlets have been threatened with the withdrawal of advertising. The signals of TV channels that gave airtime to opposition representatives have been jammed, the report said about Pakistan.

Journalists, who dared to broach subjects deemed off limits, have been subjected to harassment campaigns. Several were abducted in 2020 in order to be told: “Stop covering unwelcome stories or your family won’t find you alive.”

After reining in the traditional media, the authorities have set about purging the Internet and social media of content not to its liking. To that end, the government is trying to step up online “regulation,” by which it clearly means censorship.

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