Pakistan Media 
Pakistan Media Creates ‘Coalition’ to Fight Media Shutdowns

An Awaaz South Asia Special | 23/01/2024

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Pakistan’s media associations have decided to come together and form a coalition to fight against increasing restrictions on free speech, believing they are doomed to succumb if they fight separately but may have a chance to succeed if they hang together.

The “Coalition for Free Media’ was formed in Islamabad Saturday and consists of several press clubs, unions, and associations of journalists from all over the country.

According to an editorial in ‘Dawn’ newspaper, “it is hoped (the Coalition) will be able to wrest back a modicum of the independence Pakistani media has been gradually deprived of over the last decade.”

It added: “The truth is that whenever the Pakistani media and working journalists have attempted to assert their freedoms in recent years, they have invariably been made to pay a very heavy price for it.

The Pakistani media, or at least parts of it, is widely considered to be among the most courageous across the region. It has withstood the terrors of the Zia ul-Haq regime, when journalists were whipped with chains if they didn’t fall in line, stood up to Pervez Musharraf, argued with Nawaz Sharif, criticized the extra-constitutional shenanigans of Imran Khan and protected their turf from the “powers that be” – the hugely powerful military establishment in Pakistan.

From unresolved murders of journalists to abductions as well as gun-battles, Pakistani journalists have faced the full force of criticism by those who want to shut down press freedoms. In recent years, the military establishment has been joined by powerful social media trolls and influencers.

According to Dawn, the Coalition’s “steering committee,” also decided to seek the aid of human rights advocates and lawyers to discourage threats to journalist’s safety and the ‘shrinking space’ for free speech in the media.  

The coalition members issued a statement at the end of their meeting:

1.     There is a strategy that has been utilized by political parties, governments, and some state institutions to malign independent journalists and damage their reputations over time.

2.     It was acknowledged that different media outlets and journalists may have differing editorial philosophies, cover the same topics in different ways, and express valid criticism of these reports and viewpoints. The coalitions key demand was to ensure free speech.

3.     The coalition has demanded the implementations of the ‘Protection of Journalists and Media Protections Act.’


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