ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said press freedoms in Pakistan have been chained through threats, intimidation, and pressure tactics by the PTI regime, calling for lifting the declared and undeclared curbs imposed on the media.
In his message on World Press Freedom Day being observed tomorrow, the PPP chairman said Imran Khan-led PTI regime has gagged the media to hide its illegitimacy, incompetency and sheer failures in every sector. Several independent journalists and anchorpersons have been forcibly taken off TV screens by, leading them to take to social media to express their independent analysis and opinions, he added.
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari pointed out that PPP has been at the forefront of championing press freedom in Pakistan and former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had abolished the draconian press laws imposed by Zia’s dictatorial regime.
He said the suppression of free media in Pakistan is a great disservice to the nation and will only serve to add fuel to flames of the legitimate anger and frustration of the people. Freedom of the press, he added, was a pivotal part of a vibrant society and democracy, giving voice to the people to be heard. Therefore, all censorship, including the imposed self-censorship through latent threats should be undone and the media should be allowed to play its role as an independent watchdog, he demanded.
He expressed concern that during the PTI regime, Pakistan had dropped to 145 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking of countries published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), an international non-governmental organization dedicated to safeguarding the right to freedom of information.
The PPP chairman endorsed the United Nations 2021 World Press Freedom Day theme ‘Information as a Public Good’ and called for an end to the era of sponsored media trials of Opposition political leaders in Pakistan.
Bilawal pledged that PPP would continue to fight against curbs on a free media and that the Party would live up to its history of standing shoulder to shoulder with the journalist community, and that the PPP would not rest until the press in Pakistan becomes truly independent and free, as it would in any true democratic country.—PPI