Pakistan struggles at 142nd rank on World Press Freedom Index

The journalists in Pakistan continue to face multiple challenges as the world observes the Freedom of Press Day. Pakistan has been ranked 142nd in position at the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The WPF index demonstrates a dangerous situation in Pakistan, where 48 journalists have been killed in targeted attacks in the last 17 years, according to a special report of the Pakistan Press Foundation.

The unarmed journalists were targeted while they were performing their professional duties, said the PPF report. The number of such journalists is 24, it said.

It was not the journalists alone that faced the brunt of saying the truth. Instead, families of 11 journalists were subjected to torture in attacks on their houses, according to the report.

As many as 26 journalists were abducted and five others had to face harassment. It’s not child’s play to work in the Pakistani media as 18 journalists were arrested and 26 others taken into custody.

In the meantime, different cases were registered against 37 people and many of them were penalised as well. A total of 699 cases, including ones about browbeating journalists and suspending telecast of news channels, were reported during the last 17 years. However, only five people involved in murder and assault offences against journalists could be punished.

Even cruder methods were deployed against media as the elections drew closer, according to the RSF report. Intimidation, physical violence and arrests were used against journalists who crossed the red line by trying to cover stories deemed off limits in the country.

After reining in the traditional media, those at the helm of affairs set their eyes on purging the Internet and social networks. “To that end, the new government headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the creation of a Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) – in which ‘regulation’ is clearly intended to mean ‘censorship’, said a brief report on the RSF website.

“Journalists meanwhile continue to be at risk in the field, especially in the western provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where reporters are caught in the crossfire between the security forces and armed rebels. At least three journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. Two of them had been covering drug trafficking.”