PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – May 2021

PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR

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

Tracking:

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. 2, No. 5 May 2021 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network – www.fnpk.org

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

Federal cabinet approves bills about journalists’ protection

Date: May 7, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Gulf News

The federal cabinet approved two crucial bills for the protection of journalists and media workers and making forced disappearance in Pakistan a criminal offence.

Pakistan Television to start digital transmission

Date: May 12, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain announced that Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) will begin its digital transmission from June 2021.

Government introduces Journalists’ Protection Bill in National Assembly

Date: May 22, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Journalism Pakistan (JP)

The federal government introduced the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021 in the National Assembly. The bill envisages a culture of safety and independence of journalists and media professionals working in the country.

Information Commission snubs National School of Public Policy

Date: May 28, 2021 – Source: The News

The National School of Public Policy (NSPP), which had refused to share information regarding recent appointments made in the institution, was directed by the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) to provide the required data to the citizen concerned.

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

Target on their backs

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Honest reporting in Pakistan draws the ire of powerful quarters and some journalists pay the ultimate price. On World Press Freedom Day, stories look at what it means to be a journalist in Pakistan.

Pakistani journalists’ group vows to fight for press freedom

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: The Washington Post

President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi termed fighting for freedom of press as their organization’s ‘hallmark’ and vowed to continue their struggle.

Press Freedom Day and Pakistan’s beleaguered journalist community

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: Dawn

World Freedom Day is a reminder for Pakistan’s beleaguered journalist community of how the space for them is steadily shrinking. A media in chains cannot hold the powerful to account and serve public interest.

Journalists continue to struggle for professional freedom in Pakistan

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: Deutsche Welle (DW)

Journalists in Pakistan are free to pitch certain stories, get unfettered access to political parties and candidates, but never free enough to question the military and address themes like marital rape and religious sensitivities.

PFUJ vows to continue struggle for freedom of press, rights of journalists

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source 1: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Source 2: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) pledged to continue its struggle for freedom of press, expression and speech in the country and protection of rights of journalists and media workers.

Government committed to ensure press freedom as fundamental right

Date: May 4, 2021 – Source 1: Radio Pakistan, Source 2: The Nation

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chadhry Fawad Hussain reiterated the government’s commitment towards ensuring independence of media and its protection as a constitutional right.

National webinar stresses joint efforts for freedom of press

Date: May 4, 2021 – Source: The News

Speakers at a national webinar on press freedom called upon the need to create unity among journalist organizations to fight against unnecessary restrictions on media in Pakistan.

SHC orders scrutiny of government employees posing as journalists

Date: May 7, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the Sindh Information Department (SID) to verify whether there are employees of the provincial government working as journalists in the Shaheed Benazirabad district.

APNS announces Eid holidays

Date: May 8, 2021 – Source: The News

Secretary General of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani announced that member publications will observe two closed holidays on account of Eid.

Fake news – the quandary of unregulated media in Pakistan

Date: May 9, 2021 – Source: The News

In the internet age, the 24-hour news cycle has shrunk to the point that consumers expect instantaneous coverage of the news, which necessitates compromising quality and credibility for speed. A free and credible press in the only way to prevent social media disinformation.

New body of Sheikhupura Union of Journalists elected

Date: May 10, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A ceremony was held at the Sheikhupura Press Club (SPC) to announce the results of the recently held elections for office bearers of the Sheikhupura Union of Journalists (SUJ).

Senator Javed, Saudi Minister for exhibiting Islamic history via television series

Date: May 11, 2021 – Source: The News

Senator Faisal Javed and Saudi Arabia’s Acting Minister of Media Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi exchanged views on promoting Islamic history via television series in Pakistan.

Federal minister wants information ministry to be revamped

Date: May 16, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary said that the entire ministry will be revamped to turn it into an ‘effective voice of the state’.

World Information Society Day to be celebrated across Pakistan

Date: May 17, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

World Information Society Day will be marked across Pakistan to alert people about how information and communication can help improve societies worldwide.

BBC issues clarification after Ishaq Dar’s complaint

Date: May 21, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published a clarification about a claim made during a HardTalk interview with Ishaq Dar in which the host quoted the European Union (EU) election monitors as terming the 2018 general elections in Pakistan as ‘credible’.

Altaf Hussain’s trial regarding hate speech to start in 2022

Date: May 23, 2021 – Source: The News

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain will go on trial in relation to the hate speech trial in January 2022 at the Kingston Crown Court in London.

Hollywood writers help develop capacity of Pakistan’s film industry

Date: May 29, 2021 – Source: The News

The United States’ Mission to Pakistan invited writers from Hollywood to lead screenwriting workshops for film students in the country.

Proposed ordinance about creation of new media body opposed

Date: May 30, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) Ordinance, 2021.

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

Government hints on inclusion of journalists in Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain and Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib discussed the inclusion of journalists in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme (NPHS) with the authority’s chairman Anwar Ali Haider.

PML-N spokesperson calls for free vaccination for journalists

Date: May 4, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab Information Secretary Uzma Bukhari urged the government to announce free vaccination camps for journalists working across the country on priority basis.

Sindh High Court tells Sindh government to pay CPNE dues

Date: May 8, 2021 – Source 1: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Source 2: Express Tribune

The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the Sindh government to pay all remaining dues of the members of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) warning that otherwise it will initiate contempt of court proceedings against the provincial government.

Journalists in Dera Ismail Khan promised media colony

Date: May 11, 2021 – Source: The News

Representatives for Federal Minister Ali Amin Gandapur assured journalists from the Dera Ismail Khan region of establishing a media colony.

Punjab to vaccinate journalists against Covid-19 on priority basis

Date: May 11, 2021 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

On the directives of the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, the provincial government announced that journalists and media workers will be vaccinated against Covid-19 on priority basis.

Sindh government to launch program for journalists’ welfare

Date: May 31, 2021 – Source: The News

Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah announced that the provincial government will launch a program for journalists to provide them with financial support and resolve their problems.

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

Illegal detention of journalist in Bannu condemned

Date: May 1, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Freedom Network (FN) condemned the illegal detention of journalist Hidayat Ullah in Bannu for exposing alleged involvement of district administration in the sugar scam.

Harassment of female journalists in Pakistan

Date: May 2, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

There is a need to sensitize society about the role of Pakistani women in journalism and the widespread harassment they face while performing their professional duties in the country.

Bilawal Bhutto calls for end to declared and undeclared media censorship

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Express Tribune

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto called for lifting the ‘declared and undeclared’ curbs imposed on media by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government.

Islamabad emerges as Pakistan’s riskiest city to practice journalism

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source 1: 24 News, Source 2: Freedom Network (FN)

According to statistics compiled by journalists’ organizations, Islamabad has been ranked the most dangerous city in Pakistan for journalists to freely perform their professional responsibilities.

Over 50% attacks on media workers targeted towards television journalists in Pakistan

Date: May 3, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

According to statistics, television journalists face over 50 percent of all attacks directed towards media professionals in the country.

Former Senate chairman demands policy to protect journalists

Date: May 4, 2021 – Source: The News

Former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani demanded for convening the Committee of the Whole of the Senate in which all stakeholders are invited to formulate policy and legislation to ensure the protection of journalists in the country.

Annual HRCP report highlights increasing curbs on dissent during 2020

Date: May 4, 2021 – Source 1: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Source 2: The News

The annual State of Human Rights in 2020 report published by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) stressed on the increasing curbs placed by the government on dissent and media during 2020.

European Union concerned over state of press freedom, attacks on journalists in Pakistan

Date: May 5, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The European Union (EU) expressed deep concern over the lack of freedom of press and frequently reported cases of violence, intimidation, abduction and killing of journalists in Pakistan.

Online attacks against women journalists in Pakistan condemned

Date: May 8, 2021 – Source: Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD)

Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD) expressed serious concerns over the continued acts of online intimidation and harassment against women journalists in Pakistan to either silence critical voices or prevent them from carrying out their professional responsibilities.

Protecting journalists in Pakistan

Date: May 9, 2021 – Source: The News

Freedom Network’s (FN) annual state of press freedom report highlighted a dramatic increase in the climate of intimidation and harassment of journalists and media workers in Pakistan. Legal cases emerged as the biggest threat to journalists and media professionals.

SHC orders cancellation of accreditation of government employees posing as journalists

Date: May 10, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Hyderabad division of the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered to cancel all the accreditation cards and press club memberships of all government employees working as journalists in the Shaheed Benazirabad district.

PFUJ demands immediate production of missing journalist

Date: May 10, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) demanded immediate production of journalist Mudassar Naaru who has been missing since the last three years.

NAB summons PPP leader in Pakistan Television funds case

Date: May 13, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) summoned Pakistan Peoples Party leader Qamar Zaman Qaira to record his statement in the ongoing investigation against former Managing Director (MD) Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) regarding illegal use of expenditures and misappropriation of funds.

Freedom Network condemns killing of journalist in Gaza

Date: May 14, 2021 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Freedom Network (FN) condemned the killing of Palestinian journalist Reema Saad, her husband and two children as a result of Israeli bombardment in Gaza.

Four policemen suspended for manhandling cameraman

Date: May 16, 2021 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Four policemen were suspended in Karachi after they were found involved in misbehaving with and manhandling a cameraman working for a private news channel.

PFUJ condemns Israeli bombing of building housing media outlets

Date: May 17, 2021 – Source 1: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Source 2: The News

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the Israeli bombing of a building in Gaza housing various media outlets and their staff.

PFUJ rallies condemn Israeli attack on media in Palestine

Date: May 19, 2021 – Source: The News

Representative of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and civil activists condemned Israeli bombing on buildings housing civilians and media outlets in Gaza.

PFUJ welcomes federal, Sindh governments’ draft of Journalists Protection Bill

Date: May 22, 2021 – Source: The News

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) welcomed the Journalists Protection Bill and urged the government to grant more powers to the commission that would hear complaints of media persons.

Journalist Asad Ali Toor attacked in Islamabad

Date: May 26, 2021 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: The National News

Journalist Asad Ali Toor sustained injuries and was hospitalized after being physically assaulted and his residence in Islamabad broken into by unidentified assailants.

Pakistani journalist assaulted in latest press freedom attack

Date: May 26, 2021 – Source 1: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Source 2: Deutsche Welle (DW)

Three unidentified men assaulted journalist Asad Ali Toor after breaking into his apartment in Islamabad in what appears to be the latest incident of violence targeting press freedom in Pakistan.

Rights groups condemn attacks on Pakistani journalists

Date: May 27, 2021 – Source: Union of Catholic Asian News

Human rights groups in Pakistan raised the alarm about violent attacks on journalists in Islamabad amid the passage of a bill in Pakistan’s National Assembly to protect journalists in the country.

PML-N wants inquiry reports regarding attacks on journalists to be made public

Date: May 28, 2021 – Source: The News

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Murriyum Aurangzeb demanded that the inquiry reports regarding attacks on journalists be made public.

Justice Isa, wife visit injured journalist

Date: May 28, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa and his wife Sarina Isa paid a visit to journalist Asad Ali Toor who was injured after unidentified suspects broke into his apartment and physically assaulted him in Islamabad.

PFUJ stages rallies against attack on journalist

Date: May 29, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Speakers at rallies organized by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) across the country demanded an investigation into the attack on journalist Asad Ali Toor and immediate arrest of the attackers.

ISI disassociates itself from attack on journalists

Date: May 30, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Daily Times

A handout issued to the media by the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) ‘totally disassociated’ itself from the attack on journalist Asad Ali Toor in Islamabad.

____________________________________________________________

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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