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Press freedom in Pakistan?

Freedom of the press in Pakistan is legally protected by the law of Pakistan as stated in its constitutional amendments, however, this is only seen to be enforced when the press’s statements are in favor of the government. Journalists’ stories are frequently seen to be crushed by intimidation or other tactics when these stories go against the government narrative. However, all of this happens under a blanket of cover, invisible to the common man.

On 4/12/2021, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the government was firmly standing behind journalists. Further stating that in Pakistan, due to the lack of defamation laws, the media has more freedom than in the first world.

Then why is this freedom never apparent. Why do journalists face backlash on every work? For example, Asma Shirazi is a Pakistani journalist who hosts a primetime current affairs show on Aaj News. Upon writing a column for BBC Urdu criticizing the current economic conditions in Pakistan she faced a violent smear and hate campaign from the government. Hammad Azhar, who accused her of making “pathetic insinuations” in a tweet and Human rights minister Shireen Mazari also inflamed the Pakistani nationalist Twittersphere by referring Shirazi to a foreign agent.

Lastly, extreme measures have also been taken in order to shut down a story as seen in the case of Journalist Asad Toor and anyone who took a stand (Hamid Mir) was also reprimanded.

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