Pakistan: Journalists criticise worsening state of freedom of information in the country

Supporters of Pakistan's political party Tehreek-e-Insaf protest against curbing of freedom of expression through social media in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, May 22, 2017. Pakistani security agencies investigating dozens of people for posting anti-state content on various social media websites. Placard on right reads "We will highlight truth, we promise." (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Several journalists in Pakistan raised concerns about declining freedom of information in the country on Thursday during a webinar titled “fighting disinformation and supporting independent media in Pakistan,” organised by the Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovations (GNMI), a non-profit organisation based in Karachi.

Karachi [Pakistan], September 17 : Senior journalist Wajahat Masood while speaking about the Right to Information (RTI) Act said, “Our state made several laws just because they needed favours from international orders. The intent behind that was not the implementation of the law,” reported Geo News. While commenting on Pakistan’s mainstream media, Masood said, “The mainstream media of Pakistan had become PTV 2.0.”
Pakistan Television Corporation, also known as PTV is Pakistan’s state-owned broadcast media.
Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, who is a journalist and columnist, said that role of media is to filter out excessive information, nonetheless, journalists are not allowed to do it the way it is meant to be done, due to the power structure, reported Geo News.
“The role of a journalist has transformed in the digital age. Media is no longer just limited to accessing and sharing information but also to filter excessive information. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we have a fixed template dictated by powers that be, where information has to adjust to a predetermined reality and not the other way around,” Shahid said.
Nayyer Ali, a broadcast journalist said that journalists are the ones who are mainly affected due to fake news. Social media is used to build agenda against journalists through fake news.
She also added that there was a need to ensure the implementation of RTI in its true sense.
Writer Mehmil Khalid cited an assessment report ‘Pakistan Freedom of Expression Report 2020’ by Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) to say that the country performed poorly in all the indicators that determine free speech and that the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the digital censorship in Pakistan.
Pakistan scored 30 points out of 100 on the assessment report index, which analysts say proves that the government has placed curbs on free speech and disallowed people to talk especially about the pandemic and the related information.

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