While writing a letter to Pakistan’s prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan, an international observer working for the rights of journalists hoped that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief “will restore media freedom and create an environment where journalists and media organisations are able to function without fear.”
The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 100 countries, wrote to the PTI chief congratulating him and his party on the success in the July 25 elections.
The organisation said it was “deeply concerned about the high-handed use of coercive measures to curtail the independence of the press in Pakistan.”
“These coercive measures include, but are not limited to, the physical intimidation, abduction and torture of dissenting journalists; the forcible denial of access by independent newspapers to readers through the widespread disruption of distribution; and the effective blockading of independent channel broadcasts to television audiences,” the letter added.
Giving examples of the atrocities faced by media persons in the country, the IPI recalled how “senior woman journalist Gul Bokhari was abducted for several hours, late at night, while on her way to work.”
“Numerous newspaper editors have been forced to drop dissenting columns from newspapers, leading some columnists to post their uncensored columns on social media platforms,” the IPI said.
The foreign observer asked the winning party to “do everything possible to ensure that the deteriorating environment for the independent press is reversed, and that the press be protected from the onslaught of state institutions.”
“Unless rigorous measures are taken to halt further attempts to influence reporting in the media, and to ensure that newspapers are allowed to publish freely, and television channels are allowed to broadcast in Pakistan without any further harassment, it will be hard to establish a vibrant democracy,” the letter warned.