Under the new Shahbaz Sharif led regime, freedom of press is witnessing its darkest era. International human rights organizations and journalist protection watchdogs has already expressed their concerns over the registration of cases against journalists and abduction of senior journalists.
President Arif Alvi has also expressed his concerns over the deterioration of press freedom in Pakistan. In a letter written to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi raised some serious questions on alarming situation and rising threats to senior journalists.
“I express my alarm and deep concern on the rising trend
of harassment and torture against journalists and media persons in
Pakistan. Recent events of violence against journalists reflect a
mindset of intolerance, that has negative repercussions both on the
future of democracy as well as freedom of expression as guaranteed
by Article 19 in our constitution. Besides creating fear in Pakistan,
such actions also come under international focus and tarnish the
image of our country”, said President Alvi.
The supreme commander of country further stated that “Journalists in Pakistan are subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism against the powerful elements of state. The actions being taken, also undermine the efforts of the judiciary, when in one jurisdiction relief is provided cases are filed in another jurisdiction with mala fide intention to continue harassment. It appears that a reign of terror has been unleashed against the media persons who have independent opinions.”
Supreme Commander of Pakistan Armed Forces also stated that “Pakistan stands at 157th position in the Freedom of Press
Index-2022. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Human Rights
Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), and the International
Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their reports have attributed
harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against journalists
as the main reasons for the dismal position of Pakistan in the said
President Alvi also reiterated that under article 41 of the constitution of Pakistan, it is the duty of President of Pakistan to protect the fundamental and constitutional rights of freedom of speech and fair trial for all citizens.
President of Pakistan urged the chief executive of the country that “Law enforcement agencies may be directed to ensure protection of journalists and media persons.
He also requested the major political players of the country to take up this issue as top priority. “In this regard, politicians across the aisle should also play their role to save the journalists from highhandedness of unknown and unscrupulous elements. I would like to be informed of the remedial actions taken as per article 46 of our Constitution.”