KARACHI: The International Press Institute (IPI) has congratulated Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on the success in the elections and expected that he would ensure restoration of media freedom, creating an environment where journalists and media organizations are able to function without fear.
The IPI, a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 100 countries, has expressed these views in a letter to Imran Khan in which it noted that the people of Pakistan had demonstrated faith in Imran and his PTI that emerged as the largest single party in the National Assembly. It said the citizens of Pakistan are looking forward to a change in the governance of the country and hope that it will be free of corruption and coercion and IPI too expects freedom of media. It IPI cited its June 12 letter wherein the Institute had apprised Imran Khan of their global network’s deep concerns about the high-handed use of coercive measures to curtail the independence of the press in Pakistan. These coercive measures included, but are not limited to, the physical intimidation, abduction and torture of dissenting journalists; the forcible denial of access by independent newspapers to readers through the widespread disruption of distribution; and the effective blockading of independent channel broadcasts to television audiences.
The IPI cited that just before the elections, a senior woman journalist, Gul Bokhari, from the Nawa-e-Waqt/Nation Group, was abducted for several hours, late at night, while on her way to work. The same night, another broadcast journalist, Asad Kharal, was physically assaulted in Lahore.
“You are well aware that such a climate is inimical to both democracy and the free flow of information necessary for a strong and corruption-free democracy that you have promised to usher in to create a new Pakistan.”
The IPI called upon Imran Khan to do everything possible to ensure that the deteriorating environment for the independent press is reversed, and that the press be protected from the ‘onslaught’ of state institutions. It said that unless rigorous measures are taken to halt further attempts to influence reporting in the media, and to ensure that newspapers are allowed to publish freely, and television channels are allowed to broadcast in Pakistan without any further harassment, “it will be hard to establish a vibrant democracy.”