Pakistan ‘media forced into silence’: Former PM Imran Khan voices concerns on media suppression

NEW DELHI: Jailed former Pakistan PM Imran Khan has voiced concerns over the suppression of the media by the state.
Khan has been held in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for the last 10 months, facing multiple charges, some of which have led to convictions.
“Over the last two years in Pakistan, media has been forced into silence, and journalists who dissent face suppression,” Khan said on his X account.

Khan’s statement comes shortly after the Punjab government, led by Maryam Nawaz—daughter of his rival Nawaz Sharif—introduced the ‘Punjab Defamation Act 2024’, a legislation said to tackle defamation but has gained significant criticism as it’s seen as method to curb press freedom in Pakistan.
The PTI party founder emphasized the importance of independent media as a crucial pillar of the state. He stated, “Independent media is one of the most important pillars of the state. It acts as a watchdog and compels the government to correct its course.”
Khan mentioned his government’s efforts to foster a freer press through the Protection of Journalists and Media Law. “My government tried to change this environment by bringing in the Protection of Journalists and Media Law but it has been sidelined since the engineered VoNC,” he said.
He was referring to the vote of no-confidence in April 2022, which led to his ousting, allegedly due to a leaked diplomatic cable.
On Tuesday, Khan highlighted examples of journalists who have faced severe repercussions for their criticism of the Pakistan Army’s political role. He noted, “Arshad Sharif was driven into exile by grave threats and was murdered in cold blood in Kenya. Dr Moeed Pirzada, Sabir Shakir, and Wajahat Saeed Khan have been compelled to leave the country.”
“Imran Riaz Khan was abducted and tortured for over six months, while journalists like Siddique Jan, Sami Ibrahim, Arif Hameed Bhatti and Adeel Habib have been under constant pressure. Who is orchestrating this systematic oppression in clear violation of our Constitution and our commitments under international conventions?,” said Imran Khan.
Khan also condemned the crackdown on media, describing it as a direct assault on democracy and freedom of expression. He commented, “The crackdown and muzzling of the media through threats, harassment and oppressive ordinances is also a direct attack on democracy and freedom of expression.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s journalist organizations have challenged the Punjab Defamation Act 2024, taking the issue to the Lahore High Court.
(With agency inputs)


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