We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

2018: A year of media suppression and rights abuses in Pakistan

22 12 24
29.12.2018

Sneaky, sinister and Orwellian are just some of the words Pakistani journalists and human rights defenders used to describe the censorship and growing clampdown on dissent, mainstream and social media in their country over the past year.

Although previous Pakistani governments also put pressure on civil society and the media, this year, many Pakistanis working in these fields I talked to felt that direct and indirect repression has increased significantly.

As we were wrapping up 2018, there were a number of incidents that solidified the perception that the situation in the country has really gotten worse.

In early December, the Pakistani authorities blocked the website of Voice of America's Pashto language radio service.

Then on December 8, a police case was filed against dozens of people in the aftermath of a rally organised by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (Pashtun Protection Movement - PTM), which campaigns for Pashtun rights. Among them were two journalists Sailaab Mehsud, affiliated with Dawn newspaper and Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty's Mashaal Radio, and Zafar Wazir of the local channel Khyber TV, who had been covering the rally.

On December 14, Pakistan's electronic media regulatory authority (PEMRA) issued an advisory note calling on media outlets not to report excessively on topics such as violence, kidnapping, sexual abuse, terrorism and natural disasters.

This document came after a similar one was issued ahead of the July parliamentary elections, which called on the media not to air "derogatory and malicious content" against the judiciary and the army. These regulatory letters purportedly aim to build a "positive image" of the country and address the "negative perception" of Pakistan globally, but many see them as a form of........

© Al Jazeera