Pakistan has fallen three places to 145th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres or RSF).
Norway topped the index for the 4th straight year, followed by its Scandinavian neighbors, while North Korea is at the bottom and China has stayed on 177th. Elsewhere in the region, India slipped from 140 to 142nd, Iran is at 173 and Afghanistan is at 122nd.
RSF said that media organizations in Pakistan have been threatened with the stoppage of advertising, signals of TV channels that provided airtime to the opposition have been jammed and harassment campaigns have been launched against journalists who talked about topics termed off-limits by the military.
The establishment, after muzzling the traditional media, has set its eyes on purging the internet and social media of information it doesn’t like.
To do this, they are trying to increase online “regulation”. Journalists, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are at risk in the field as they are caught in the crossfire between the security forces and militants.
The RSF said, “The influence of establishment has increased dramatically since Imran Khan became prime minister in July 2018. There have been many cases of brazen censorship in which the military have used a number of methods for exercising pressure. Distribution of newspapers, especially the leading daily Dawn, has been interrupted.”
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