Islamabad [Pakistan], May 3 (ANI): On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that press freedoms in Pakistan has been chained through threats, intimidation, and pressure tactics by the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led regime and called for lifting curbs imposed on the media.
"Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime has gagged the media to hide its illegitimacy, incompetence and sheer failures in every sector and several independent journalists and anchor-persons have been forcibly taken off TV screens, leading them to take to social media to express their independent analysis and opinions," he said on Monday, reported The News International.
Bilawal further remarked that the suppression of free media in Pakistan is a great disservice to the nation and will only serve to add fuel to the flames of the legitimate anger and frustration of the people.
"Therefore, all censorship, including the imposed self-censorship through latent threats should be undone and the media should be allowed to play its role as an independent watchdog," he mentioned.
Expressing concern that Pakistan had dropped to 145 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index, the PPP chairman vowed that his party will continue to fight against curbs on free media, reported The News International.
The opposition party called for legislation to end impunity of crimes against journalists and an end to visible and invisible manipulations to control media content on various pretexts, the Pakistani daily further reported.
"In addition to the usual threats of murder, physical assault and abduction of media personnel, we are also witnessing control of media content in the name of national security," said the PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar on Sunday, adding that it was time to set up a bipartisan parliamentary committee on 'freedom of expression'.
According to the Freedom Network's annual state of the Press Freedom 2021 report, Islamabad has emerged as the riskiest place to practice journalism.
According to The News International, at least 148 cases of attacks and violations against the media and its practitioners, including journalists, took place over the course of one year - between May 2020 and April 2021.
Pakistan has for several years continued a poor track record on press freedom. The 2020 world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders has reported that Pakistan slipped six spots since 2017 to 145th place out of 180 countries.
The New York Times reported that in the last five years, as many as 11 journalists have been killed in Pakistan, seven of them since Imran Khan became the Prime Minister. (ANI)