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Pakistan

Journalists face increasing attacks in Pakistan

Freedom Network identifies state agencies as the major threat to a free press

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Journalists face increasing attacks in Pakistan

Media outlets are under attack in Pakistan. (Photo: YouTube)

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Threats, attacks and harassment against journalists and media organizations in Pakistan have increased, according to a new report by the Freedom Network group.

Six journalists survived assassination attempts and three were kidnapped last month. Seven others faced threats ranging from arrest, harassment and assault to legal cases during the same period, the Nov. 11 report stated.

The victims of kidnapping did not share any details of their disappearance, nor did their organizations release details. The media workers were picked up by intelligence agencies, claims the report.

State authorities were reportedly involved in eight cases while two cases involved the Pakistan People’s Party and in six cases the culprits remain unknown.

“It is alarming that state functionaries of various government departments have emerged as the main initiators of the cases, indicating adoption of a predatory attitude of the state of Pakistan against journalists and becoming their enemy number when it comes to lodging legal cases against them,” said Iqbal Khattak, executive director of Freedom Network.

“This state of affairs is alarming and the state needs to both explain why it is attacking media and its practitioners as an undeclared but practiced policy. It needs to rapidly de-escalate its targeting of media as a key element of Pakistan’s democratic landscape.”

Another report, titled "In Legal Crosshairs: Using the Law to Punish Journalists — Impunity against Journalists facing Legal Cases in Pakistan," launched on the eve of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on Nov. 2, analyzed data of 17 journalists in Pakistan against whom legal cases were registered during the period 2018-19.

According to Freedom Network’s annual press freedom report 2020, at least 91 cases, including seven murders of journalists and a blogger, were documented in Pakistan between May 2019 and April 2020.

In September, more than 150 female journalists in Pakistan signed a petition raising the alarm about “vile and vicious attacks” by people affiliated with the government, political parties and their social media wings.

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