Free speech, dissent under attack in Pakistan: report


Reduced tolerance for online dissent, shutting down mobile networks on election day, throttling of internet access, forced suspension of social media platforms, and a raft of attacks and harassment of journalists and bloggers, including the murder of four journalists, significantly eroded the parameters of general free speech and dissent in Pakistan over the past 12 months while enhancing the risks for media freedoms.

This was stated in the annual Pakistan Freedom of Expression and Media Report 2024, produced by Freedom Network and issued ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The report, titled “Erosion of free speech: The silencing of citizens, political parties, and media,” covers the period from May 2023 to April 2024 and raises important issues regarding the shrinking margins of dissent and the risks faced by journalists and media practitioners.

The report noted the murder of four journalists during this period, highlighting the dangerous environment in which media professionals operate.

A total of 104 cases of violations against journalists and other media practitioners, including murders, attacks, injuries, kidnapping, threats and legal cases, were documented by Freedom Network.

“Freedom of expression loses its meaning if citizens and their representatives in political parties cannot express themselves freely and curbs on media and online civic spaces are curtailed in negation of constitutional guarantees,” said Iqbal Khattak, Freedom Network Executive Director.__Daily Times