By Avinandan Choudhury
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
|…Despite a decline in fatal violence against journalists the media environment is worse today than it has been in recent years… Intimidation and threats of assault have led journalists and editors to avoid reporting stories on topics that would lead them into trouble. These topics include a wide range of touchy issues: religion, Chinese investment, relations with India, militant groups, and criticism of the military.|
|The military garnered widespread praise for its crackdown on militancy after the, which resulted in a sharp decline of terrorist incidents — and in turn, violence against journalists. Yet the stepped-up activity put the military in position to exert even greater control. The military has quietly, but effectively, set restrictions on reporting: from barring access to regions including Balochistan where there is armed separatism and religious extremism, to encouraging self-censorship through direct and indirect methods of intimidation, including calling editors to complain about coverage and even allegedly instigating violence against reporters. The military, intelligence, or military-linked and political groups were the suspected source of fire that resulted in half of the 22 journalist murders in the past decade. Hence it is easy to see how the military’s widening reach is viewed as a source of intimidation. The military has clashed with Pakistan’s elected government, which tried and ultimately failed to assert civilian control. Journalists find themselves in the middle of this battle, struggling to report while staying out of trouble.|
|The army and intelligence agencies were threatening me and I suspect the people who tried to kidnap me were from the army. They do not like investigative reporting that uncovers the wrongdoings of those institutions.|
|While the decline in the killing of journalists is encouraging, the government needs to counteract pressures that have resulted in rampant self-censorship and threats to the media. Pakistan must address the disturbing trend of impunity and attacks on journalists to shore up this faltering pillar of democracy.|
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has responded to the letter of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Chief Minister’s Advisor on Information Barrister Murtaza Wahab has confirmed.
In the letter, Bilawal writes he could not appear before the anti-graft body on May 17 owing to some crucial engagements.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the NAB to set any date in the next week so that he could appear before it.The advisor said “PPP chairman he received letter from NAB on May 13. The letter was written on May 08.”