GENEVA, 26th February 2020 – It is a well-known fact that the media in Pakistan is increasingly affected by the government’s restrictive policies. According to journalists, Pakistani media now only operates as a formality and instead acts as a propaganda tool of the state.
To display this plight of the media and press in Pakistan, a banner has been displayed before the United Nations Office of Geneva at the iconic Broken Chair sculpture.
The freedom of the media started to be especially questioned after the controversial elections of 2018. The polls were claimed to have been manipulated by the Pakistani Army in order to bring the current Prime Minister, Imran Khan, into power. When members of the media tried to reveal this, they were silenced and threatened by the authorities. Some did what they were told while others chose not to obey, costing them their jobs.
Journalists in Pakistan have been faced with the increasing risk of extremist threats and attacks on social media. A climate of fear has dominated the media, affecting their operations. According to a report from a non-government organisation, more than 50 journalists have been killed in the last two decades.
The government has extensive control over broadcast streaming, advertisements for news channels and social media. Journalists, activists, authors, and politicians describe this as a period of extreme fear and self-censorship. The political opposition voices are suppressed by the government and journalists are silenced. With new regulations in the anti-terrorism agenda, terrorism, extremism, hate speech, fake news, incitement to violence and national security will be monitored. However, this is paving the way for mass censorship.
GHRD’s protest at the Broken Chair in front of the UN Office condemn the human rights abuses with the slogan “Pakistan: Allow Media and Political Freedom”. GHRD calls on the UN to take necessary actions.