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Pakistan hits back at RSF, rejects 'predators of press freedom' list

 JournalismPakistan.com
 July 07, 2021

Pakistan hits back at RSF, rejects 'predators of press freedom' list

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan has vehemently rejected the recently-issued Reporters Without Borders (RSF) list that has Prime Minister Imran Khan among the world’s 37 rulers the RSF calls ‘predators of press freedom.’

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was quite surprising that RSF has jumped to the conclusion that media in Pakistan is under “increasingly draconian censorship measures by Imran Khan’s government,” despite the fact that the current government has been taking all possible measures to create a congenial environment for journalists to perform their professional obligations.

“The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape. The liberal media policy of the government has resulted in exponential media growth. The country has 43 international media channels, 112 private TV channels, 258 FM channels and 1,569 publications. The size of the media speaks volumes about the robustness of the media in Pakistan,” it said.

Contrary to the RSF’s report the government does not believe in issuing press advice. Rather, it encourages self-regulation by the media. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government believes in the freedom of expression and media independence which is evident from the unanimous approval of the Journalist Protection Bill by the Cabinet which would go a long way in ensuring the safety and security of the journalist community.

The Constitution of Pakistan itself guarantees the freedom of expression through Article 19 and 19-A. In addition to this, the federal government promulgated the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 which ensures that every citizen shall have the right of access to information in all matters of public importance.

“Furthermore, the reference to the ‘deep state’ is misplaced. All the institutions of Pakistan are working in cohesion and at the same time guarding their own independence and autonomy. As far as the prime minister is concerned, he is the elected head of government and has the resounding support of the people of Pakistan. The level of criticism that is faced by the government and the military is unheard of even in the developed world,” the Foreign Ministry said.

It said the insinuation that journalists choose to live abroad due to security reasons and that they have been subjected to intimidation and attacks even in the countries where they choose to live, is nothing but ludicrous. Is the security of people outside Pakistan, also a responsibility of the Pakistani government?

“The claim that troll armies harass and vilify all journalists and bloggers who criticize the ruling government, is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is that the government uses fake news busters to tackle misinformation/disinformation in order to quash fake news. This practice is in complete consonance with the universal ethics of responsible journalism,” it said.

“It appears that the report that RSF has issued is an attempt to malign the elected representative of the people of Pakistan, without any corroborative evidence. It is hoped that in future RSF will avoid such irresponsible journalism,” it added.

Similarly, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that a conspiracy was being hatched to ban freedom of expression in Pakistan. The minister tweeted that a specific group is part of this propaganda to bring Pakistan into the FATF and other such regulatory networks.

“Fake groups start news from outside: a certain group in Pakistan knowing or without knowing, forwards this narrative,” the minister said.

Photo: Twitter (@ImranKhanPTI)

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