Pakistan Media Monitor – March 2024


A monthly report on trends relating to state of journalism and media rights, policies and practices


Media related laws, policies and regulations

The state of media professionalisms

The state of media economy

Threats and attacks against journalists and information practitioners

Vol. 5, No. 3 March 2024 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network –

SECTION 1: Media related laws, policies, regulations, mechanisms

  • Freedom of expression (FOE)
  • Right to information (RTI), access to information (ATI)
  • Federal and provincial governments (relevant ministries and departments)
  • Media related regulators (PPC, PEMRA, PTA)
  • Regulatory issues related to print, electronic and digital media

SECTION 2: The state of media professionalisms

  • Media independence issues
  • Public interest journalism practices and challenges
  • Ethical journalism issues
  • The state of thematic journalism
  • Community-focused media
  • Misinformation / disinformation / fake news

8th edition of Women International Film Festival returns to Islamabad

Date: March 3, 2024 – Source 1: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Source 2: The News

The 8th edition of the Women International Film Festival (WIFF) was held in Islamabad. The two-day event witnessed an array of films from across the globe, emphasizing the festival’s commitment to bridging the gender gap in the world of cinema.

APNS elects new office-bearers

Date: March 4, 2024 – Source 1: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Source 2: The News

The annual meeting of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) general council was held in Karachi, where it unanimously elected Nazafreen Lakhani as President, Sarmad Ali as Secretary General, Imtinan Shahid as Senior Vice President and Shahab Zuberi as Finance Secretary of the Society.

Twin cities face collapse of cinema industry

Date: March 4, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

Once bustling with families seeking weekend movie treats, the cinema business in Islamabad and Rawalpindi now stands on the brink of collapse with a decline in viewership, closure of cinemas, low-quality films, and the rise of over-the-top (OTT) digital platforms.

Pakistani media faces gender emergency

Date: March 7, 2024 – Source: The News

A gender audit conducted by the Women Journalists Association of Pakistan (WJAP) revealed that under-representation of women journalists and the lack of gender sensitive policies has forced Pakistan’s media industry into a state of gender emergency.

Journalist Nasir Zaidi to receive ‘Ahfaz-ur-Rehman Award’ for courage and freedom of expression

Date: March 19, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Online Indus News

A four-member committee consisting of independent journalists announced the selection of journalist and media rights defender Nasir Zaidi for the ‘Ahfaz-ur-Rehman Award for Courage and Freedom of Expression’.

Shaukat Yousafzai ordered to pay compensation for defamation

Date: March 19, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Pakistan Today

Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfyandar Wali Khan won a defamation lawsuit against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shaukat Yousafzai, with an additional district and sessions judge ordering Yousafzai to pay Rs150 million in damages.

How to fight fake news

Date: March 21, 2024 – Source: The News

The answer to fake news is a flood of genuine, verified posts and less use of click-bait fluff. The stories must stay relevant and must appear on people’s timelines to help them separate truth from fiction. Anything less than this is a tech suicide.

Punjab government amends 150-year-old law to control ‘obscenity’ in theatres

Date: March 26, 2024 – Source: Dawn

In an attempt to end obscenity in the commercial theatre, the Punjab government approved amendments to the Dramatic Performances Act 1876, transferring the administrative affairs of the dramatic performances from the home department to the Information and Culture Department (ICD).

British High Commission trains Pakistani journalists on climate reporting

Date: March 27, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

More than 100 Pakistani journalists from 35 media outlets and research organizations participated in a practical training session conducted by the British High Commission (BHC) on climate journalism in Islamabad.

Hidden behind the headlines

Date: March 29, 2024 – Source: The News

What Pakistan’s media industry needs is the desire to tell the truth to the people as often and as repeatedly as possible. Those who own and manage the media can play a lead in this, but journalists must also lead the way and deliver to newsrooms stories that they have investigated independently.

SECTION 3: The state of media economy

  • Economic landscape of media industry
  • Impact of Covid-19 on media resilience and sustainability
  • Government and private advertising for media industry
  • Advertising sector and its interface with media industry
  • Business viability and sustainability of media
  • Wages, salaries and arrears of journalists and media practitioners 

Larkana radio station’s coverage shrinks to 20pc due to fault in transmitters

Date: March 15, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Financial constraints have badly affected Radio Pakistan’s (RP) Medium Wave (MW) transmitter’s performance in Larkana, shrinking its coverage capacity to about 20 per cent.

SECTION 4: Threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, including online

  • Murders and killings
  • Kidnappings and abductions
  • Arrests and detentions
  • Threats – verbal and written
  • Harassment and intimidation – offline and online
  • Surveillance, hacking and data breaches
  • Legal cases for journalism-related work or free speech
  • Impunity of crimes against journalists
  • Censorship

Detained vlogger on hunger strike for 36 hours

Date: March 1, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Pakistan Today

According to his lawyer, detained vlogger Asad Ali Toor has been on hunger strike since his arrest by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) over charges of maligning office-bearers of state institutions on social media.

HRCP warns against curbs on social media, freedom to express online

Date: March 4, 2024 – Source 1: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Source 2: Dawn

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) opposed the proposed Senate resolution seeking a ban on all social media platforms, warning members of the upper house that such ‘ill-judged’ measures violate people’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.

PTV continues blackout of opposition lawmakers in National Assembly coverage

Date: March 5, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: South Asia Global (SAG)

The state-owned electronic media continued blocking speeches made by members of National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the opposition. However, the authorities concerned expressed ignorance about the decision to black out their speeches.

Selective broadcasting

Date: March 6, 2024 – Source: Dawn

In a democracy, the media serves as a guardian of public discourse, where the voices of all – especially the marginalized – find their echo. It is troubling to note how the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) continues to censor some voices, refusing to air speeches by members of the opposition.

Vlogger’s remand extended in ‘social media campaign’ against judiciary case

Date: March 7, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: Arab News

The court of a federal magistrate in Islamabad extended for two more days the physical remand of vlogger Asad Ali Toor in a case of ‘smear campaign on social media’ against judges of the Supreme Court (SC).

Islamabad High Court reserves verdict on vlogger’s plea against FIA’s arrest

Date: March 8, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Pakistan Today

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its verdict on vlogger Asad Ali Toor’s petition against the arrest and alleged harassment by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Anchorperson gets bail in Zaman Park violence case

Date: March 10, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted post-arrest bail to anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan in a case of resorting to violence outside Zaman Park, residence of former prime minister Imran Khan in Lahore.

Chief Justice condemns intimidation of press

Date: March 12, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Islamabad Post, Source 3: The Kabul Times

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa observed that the intimidation of press would not be tolerated, since it involves key fundamental rights. The observation came as he was dictating an order, following a hearing in a case involving harassment of journalists.

FIA used judiciary’s name to probe journalists, remarks Chief Justice

Date: March 12, 2024 – Source: The News

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) expressed dissatisfaction with a report submitted by Islamabad Police (IP), with Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa clarifying that neither any judge nor the registrar instructed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to summon and investigate journalists.

Police start short-term ‘abduction’ of journalists

Date: March 12, 2024 – Source: The News

Office-bearers of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) expressed concern over incidents of unauthorized search and ‘abduction’ of journalists by individuals introducing themselves as members of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).

Pakistan Bar Council urges ‘media balance’, condemns threats against journalists

Date: March 12, 2024 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) released a statement condemning threats against journalists and free media practioners, while urging reporters to adopt a ‘balanced’ approach.

PTI leader indicted in journalist misbehavior case

Date: March 15, 2024 – Source 1: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Source 2: ARY News

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Javed was indicted in a case pertaining to his misbehavior with a journalist in 2022, with the written verdict by a district and sessions court stating it was a crime to threaten a journalist.

Trial court ordered to hear vlogger’s bail plea

Date: March 16, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Today, Source 3: Business Recorder (BR)

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) asked the trial court to hear arguments on a petition seeking post-arrest bail of vlogger Asad Ali Toor. Toor has been held in a case relating to maligning state institutions on social media.

Trial court approves post-arrest bail for detained vlogger

Date: March 17, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Business Recorder (BR)

The special court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) granted post-arrest bail to vlogger Asad Ali Toor in a case related to maligning state institutions and their office-bearers on social media.

Silencing the press

Date: March 18, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The state is expanding its legislative toolkit to harass, intimidate, detain and thereby silencing journalists. Ambiguous definitions of disinformation, cyberterrorism, false news, public order and national security litter hastily approved legislation by the former parliament. 

Cases against two journalists to be closed ‘soon’, FIA assures Supreme Court

Date: March 26, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan assured the Supreme Court (SC) that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will soon move applications for the closure of cases against journalists Syed Imran Shafqat and Amir Mir.

Journalist cleared after court finds error in FIR, no malice

Date: March 27, 2024 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A judicial magistrate in Rawalpindi dismissed the case against reporter Israr Ahmed Rajput after finding that the initial first information report (FIR) registered against him for posting ‘inaccurate’ religious material on social media was not filed in accordance with the law.

Harassment case: Supreme Court restrains FIA from arresting journalists

Date: March 28, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) not to arrest any journalist till the next hearing of the suo moto case against the alleged harassment of journalists.

OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:

  • Monitor the state of policies, regulations and mechanisms governing the media sector in Pakistan; the state of freedom of expression and right to information environment in the country and how these interfaces with media freedoms allowed or restricted via media regulations governed by the print, electronic and internet regulators.
  • Track the state of media professionalisms in the country including ethical and public interest journalism practices and challenges, and the challenges of misinformation, disinformation and fake news phenomena.
  • Follow the changing economic dynamics of the media industry and how they impact the business viability and sustainability of media and exploitation of media staff in lieu of their wages and arrears.
  • Scrutinize threats and attacks against media and information practitioners, the state of impunity of crimes against journalists and efforts to provide justice for those aggrieved and distressed.

INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information: 

  • Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
  • Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
  • Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees 
  • Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
  • Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
  • National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
  • Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
  • Social Media:Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
  • Any other open public information sources.  

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