LAHORE: An undeclared gag on media is in place in Pakistan as journalists are prone to employ self-censorship while reporting on sensitive subjects.
The views were expressed by Steven Butler, Asian Program Coordinator of Committee to Protect Journalists, Ahmed Rashid, Member Board of Directors CPJ, and Mustafa Hameed, Producer at CPJ, at a “Meet the Press” here at the Lahore Press Club on Tuesday. “There are still many no-go areas for the journalists where they cannot write or speak with freedom. They are so regular to self-censorship that now they don’t even name the named. The state of Pakistan has to understand the importance of freedom of the press,” Steven Butler added.
The delegation spent a very busy day and had a meeting at SAFMA Secretariat. They met a number of journalists and asked their problems and difficulties while reporting in the field. Steven Butler said, “We met former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013 and they promised us that they would do anything to protect journalists but we don’t see any solid measure. Numbers are quite high in terms of threats and physical violence against journalists. They have a very tough job to do. They are frightened to write about certain institutions.”
He said, “Elections are near and journalists will be on the hit list. They need security. The major threat which journalists face is job security. Our delegation will meet the prime minister with the latest report of CPJ and would try our best for safe and better working environment for journalists.”
Ahmad Rasheed said, “Institutions have to work within their limits. Journalists are bound to do self-censorship. The government should provide a safe atmosphere to journalists. We cannot secure 100 percent but we can atleast make an effort towards that goal.”
Many journalists explained about the problems while reporting on certain institutions and areas. They expressed their concerns over their limitations to report on certain subjects in FATA, Balochistan and other restricted areas. Journalists face trouble in asking questions to the authorities and are bound to write in a way that pleases them. They requested the delegation to make some more efforts to help them in reporting properly and do justice to their profession.