Press Freedom in Pakistan

Press freedom has been the most heated debate throughout the history of Pakistan as the freedom of press is antithetical to many entrenched and vested interests. The higher the press freedom, the lower freedom of exploitative forces and their luxurious life. Press freedom is a necessary instrument of basic human rights, financial transparency, fair dealings and hence development. No development and progress can ever take place if there is no proper check on them. Even the soundest policies need critical analysis to make them error free as human wisdom is always prone to error and making mistakes.

The other day Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), during a seminar in Quetta, expressed their serious reservations against the hidden hands that are hell-bent on bullying media and journalists in Pakistan to conform to their interests in the course of professional work. The level of arm-twisting has reached a point of financial throttling of media houses, leading to unemployment of hundreds of thousands of journalists as well as compelling journalists to work on compromised salaries. Apart from this the ‘handlers’ and ‘media managers’ of the exploitative forces have resorted to other tactics too whereby, by the virtue of their enormous wealth, they have bought many media houses themselves and have even have launched their own channels. This has given them double edged benefit. On the one hand, they have muffled the true voices and have been very successful in creating a skewed narrative by polluting the public opinion through fake news, reports and implanted interviews and on the other hand, they have also been successful in growing their wealth exponentially by diverting the advertisement and commercials to their media houses and crippling the functionality of the professional journalists. Many journalists, having been intimated on the mainstream media channels, have quit their jobs and have turned to social media platforms such as Facebook pages and YouTube channels where they are trying to make a dent in the thick walls of falsehood bridged by the exploiters of this nations.

However, the so-called managers of media have also their eyes on social media platforms. There have been many attempts by the much known ‘unknown’ people to threaten journalists from giving their opinion on social media platforms. The example of Matiullah Jan’s abduction is a case in point. Similarly, the same bugs have now also devised a counter strategy to pollute the social media platforms too through their stooges and have given green signal to many stooges to launch their channels to preach falsehood. This and many attempts speak volumes about how difficult it is for the journalists to work and earn a decent living in this society. The press freedom and all other liberties of the masses that the free countries are enjoying elsewhere in the world were not provided to them in a plate. They struggled for them and snatched them from the exploitative sections of their own society. In the same way, the right thinking people of Pakistan have to fight for their liberties or else the chains of slavery will pass on to their succeeding generations continually.

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