Mon, 17 May 2021

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 3 (ANI): The Pakistan government's claim that the country's press is free is a "bald-faced" lie as journalists continue to face threats from state elements and news editors are coerced into censoring "undesirable" information or giving stories a certain slant, country's leading newspaper Dawn has said.

In an editorial on the World Press Freedom Day, Dawn said that journalists' safety appears to be very low on the government's list of priorities.

"Today is World Press Freedom Day: for Pakistan's beleaguered journalist community, it is a reminder of how the space for them is steadily shrinking. But this grim reality should also be of concern to those who understand the critical importance of a free press in a democracy," the newspaper noted.

Pakistan has emerged as the riskiest place to practice journalism, according to the Freedom Network's annual state of the Press Freedom 2021 report.

It has been ranked 145th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders's (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019.

Dawn noted that Pakistan documented at least 148 attacks or violations against journalists across the country from May 3, 2020 till April 20, 2021.

These include six murders, seven attempted assassinations, five kidnappings, 25 arrests or detentions, 15 assaults and 27 legal cases registered against journalists.

"And state authorities, responsible for protecting constitutional rights, emerged as the biggest threat to media practitioners -- perceived as the perpetrators in a whopping 46 pc of the documented cases," it said.

"Meanwhile, threats from known and 'unknown' state elements continue to be hurled at journalists; news editors are coerced into censoring 'undesirable' information or giving stories a certain slant; media outlets are threatened with financial ruin if they refuse to toe the line. In the midst of this, for government functionaries to insist that the press in Pakistan is free, as they are wont to do sometimes, is no less than a bald-faced lie." it added. (ANI)

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