Pakistan Treats Critical Journalists as Enemy Hybrid Warriors

The consistent attacks against the Pakistani media over the years has resulted in creating an atmosphere where anyone who criticizes the government or the deep state is viewed as ‘anti national’ or a ‘RAW agent’ or a ‘CIA agent.’ In his latest piece, former editor of Dawn, Abbas Nasir asks the question: “Aren’t we all on the same side — ie Pakistan’s?”
 
According to Nasir, the information minister’s desire to create “a supra regulator” to oversee all media and social media platforms “will create misgivings at a number of levels.” Nasir asks: “Why does the government feel the need to regulate the media with an extraordinary body when there are existing regulators and laws that adequately provide for the job?”
 
Giving the example of the United Kingdom, Nasir points out: “electronic media and the newspapers are regulated by entirely different bodies. Ofcom is the regulator that covers phones and internet, TV, radio and on demand. Ofcom’s mandate is to ensure the orderly growth of the communications industry across the spectrum of its responsibilities. Equally, it enforces anti-monopoly regulations and then addresses user/ viewer/ consumer complaints which cover a broad sweep such as billing, quality of the service provision, and last but not least, content. It also provides the code that broadcasters have to follow. Then there is the Press Complaints Commission which is the body that rules on reader/ affected party complaints against newspapers. As for social media, there is no regulator per se. Laws exist to safeguard the public against defamation, slander etc which are routinely enforced by the courts.”
 
Nasir ends by stating: “It is now up to the government to allay concerns that more curbs may be on the way and to state unequivocally that it is committed to media freedoms. At the same time, let me say no legitimate journalist approves of or reports fake news or other distasteful content. If someone were to do that, the laws exist and the book could be thrown at them. I hope we can collectively safeguard our hard-earned freedoms and not be forced to give them up on one pretext or the other. However, as one social media rights activist in her 40s said: we have survived two dictatorships so will survive a democracy too. I am just hoping it never comes to that.”

 

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