‘Worse day by day’: Journalists speak after violence on Pakistani blogger | Pakistan

YesAfter being greeted in front of an enthusiastic crowd, Hamid Mir, a well-known Pakistani journalist, spoke bluntly. “Never enter the homes of journalists,” he said. “We don’t have tanks or guns like you, but we can tell the Pakistani people the stories that come out of your homes.”

Mir may be addressing journalists In Islamabad on Friday, But his words were not based on them. He was a clear message to Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

The day before, assailants broke into the home of YouTube journalist Asad Tor. Whose videos There are criticisms of the ruling class. They tied him up and tortured him, but not before he introduced himself as an officer in the International Security Intelligence (ISI) under military siege.

“I was told that the army and the ISI were not happy with my journalism,” Torr said after the attack. Why the name? “

Pakistani officials have denied any involvement, claiming that Tor carried out the attack to seek political asylum abroad. On Tuesday, the Federal Investigation Agency filed a lawsuit against Toure for “defaming” a government agency.

“There is no room for freedom of expression and dissent,” Tor said. If anyone criticizes the army and Imran Khan, they face physical and online attacks. The level of frustration is high. He cannot stand the criticism of journalists.

In response to the attack, Mir was part of a group of journalists who had gathered to express outrage at the escalating violence, intimidation and censorship of journalists who dared to criticize Khan’s government.

Mir’s speech, which was directed without naming the army, went viral. But on Monday, Mir was told that his popular Chishu, which has been running for two decades, had to be pulled from the news channel Geo TV. The last time this happened to Mir was in 2007, when then-President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution.

Mir is no stranger to his reporting: he still had two bullets in his body after an assassination attempt in 2014. But Mir says press freedom has reached the lowest point in its decades-long career.

“There are very few of them,” says Mir, who do not directly name the army or the ISI. He even shared my daughter’s contact number on WhatsApp and asked others to threaten him. She is just a student. Now she is sending threatening and threatening messages.

Many condemned Mir’s decision to pull the show, Including Amnesty International, Who said it had further undermined the protection of free speech “already in an oppressive environment”.

“Censorship, harassment and physical violence should not be the price a journalist pays for his job,” Amnesty said.

Since Khan came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, journalists and civil rights groups have spoken out against the permanent erosion of press freedom. Violent attacks on journalists are on the rise. In April, a Senior Pakistani journalist shot dead It has been targeted due to injuries and reports in Islamabad.

The military now routinely issues threats to ensure news that draws negative news about the military or the Khan government, dismisses critical journalists and provides no coverage to opposition politicians and rallies. Is not given

According to the International Federation of Journalists, Pakistan belongs to the world The fifth is dangerous Country for journalists. In its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders Pakistan is ranked 145th Out of 180 countries

Attacks on the media in Pakistan are about to become law, as the president, Arif Alawi, introduces the most severe censorship seen in years, including a blanket ban on negative government or military coverage.

Under the rules, existing press freedom laws would be repealed and a new authority would be empowered to inspect and raid any news organization, summon any journalist for questioning and revoke the media network’s license. Has gone Even journalists who broadcast on YouTube will need a license.

The ordinance also states that TV news anchors cannot broadcast ideologies that are biased against the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan. , Or members of the armed forces, or members of the state legislature or judiciary. “

Prince Zulfiqar, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, called the new regulation “media martial law.” We are entering the worst and darkest period of media freedom. In this age, journalists lack security in both their careers and their lives.

“It simply came to our notice then. Journalists do not feel safe here.

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