AEMEND concerned over ‘undeclared press censorship’ in Pakistan


The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) has expressed serious concern over undeclared press censorship prevailing in the country as well as disappearance of journalists and increasing pressure being mounted through unwarranted interference of government and state institutions in the working of the Pakistani media.

An emergency session of AEMEND’s executive committee was held to discuss the current challenges being faced by the media, especially the country’s television channels. In the meeting, committee members deplored the level of censorship being imposed by the government and other state institutions. Pressure is being exerted on the media to restrict the public’s right to the truth and to present a one-sided reflection of events. In such circumstances, independent and unbiased reporting to present the people with facts is being curtailed. AEMEND asserted that journalists should not become politicised and the conduct of certain journalists, anchor-persons and media workers – both on social media and on the ground – cannot be condoned as journalism. However, the enforced disappearance of any citizen, either a political worker or a journalist, cannot be supported either nor can one remain silent in its face.

Imran Riaz Khan and other missing journalists should be proceeded against as per the law if they are alleged to have committed a crime, which includes their right to a legal defence. It is extremely disturbing that these individuals were picked up and no state agency is taking ownership of the incidents. The Prime Minister of Pakistan must take notice of the disappearance of these journalists and take action so they may be traced as soon as possible. AEMEND reminded the government that as it was once in the opposition and it may find itself out of government in the future as well. The PTI government’s tenure saw several similar incidents to curtail freedom of expression in the country. At the time, AEMEND stood firm alongside other journalist bodies against the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority, Peca, and other similar black laws. Members of the

Pakistan Democratic Movement, including the PPP, PML-N, MQM-P, JUI-F and others had supported this stance of journalists and vowed to not only abolish these black laws when in power but also to practically ensure media freedom in the country. Thus, AEMEND reminds them of their commitment and earlier promises. The committee members resolved that despite all the strong-arming and pressure tactics, they will not remain silent spectators and instead will take practical steps, including consultations with other journalist bodies – permission for which was explicitly granted in the meeting. In this vein, various media stakeholders, including CPNE, PFUJ, PBA and APNS, among others, will be consulted, after which a joint committee comprising their members will inform the Prime Minister and leaders of the PDM and opposition parties about their views on the subject.

AEMEND has also decided to write to the Prime Minister, political party leaders, PEMRA chairman, federal government, ISPR, and human rights and international journalist organisations to apprise them of the situation in detail. AEMEND’s executive committee has demanded that the Prime Minister take serious cognisance of the situation according to his role as the country’s chief executive and do whatever is in his power to address the situation by engaging with media stakeholders. It is AEMEND’s unwavering stance that any attempt to curtail the media’s independence is akin to weakening the state itself. Pakistan’s media organisations have always considered it their responsibility to safeguard the state and have given immense sacrifices for the purpose.__Daily Times