PAKISTAN MEDIA MONITOR – May 2022
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. 3, No. 5 – May 2022 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
Pakistan Information Commission imposes fine on secretary over Toshakhana issue
The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) imposed a fine equal to one month’s salary on the cabinet secretary for disobeying the order of providing details of gifts which former premier Imran Khan received from the Toshakhana.
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
Date: May 6, 2022 – Source: Dawn
Each time a product is launched by a company, the latter’s communication strategy is critical to ensuring the product’s success. It is this strategy that helps the product become a brand. Politics is no different. The Imran Khan brand has triumphed and has allowed his party to become a national political player.
Government vows legal action against Imran Khan for ‘anti-state’ speech
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that legal action will be taken against former premier Imran Khan for delivering an ‘anti-state speech’ in a public gathering in Abbottabad, saying that the ‘speech was a grand conspiracy against Pakistan’.
ISPR condemns spread of defamatory statements against army
According to a press release issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Army took exception to ‘intensified and deliberate’ attempts and statements to drag its name into the country’s political discourse by political leaders, journalists and analysts.
FIA warns overseas Pakistanis against uploading seditious videos, posts on social media
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) warned overseas Pakistanis who are allegedly involved in committing offences on social media that their names can be put on the Exit Control List (ECL) and red notices through Interpol to arrest them can be issued.
MNA Ali Wazir granted bail in hate speech case
The Sindh High Court (SHC) granted bail to Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) lawmaker Ali Wazir in a hate speech case. He was booked under the anti-terrorism law in Karachi for delivering ‘hate speeches’ against certain state institutions.
Exiled Afghan journalists in Pakistan seek humanitarian aid, resumption of career
A research study conducted by Freedom Network (FN) found an urgent need for extending humanitarian and professional assistance to exiled Afghan journalists in Pakistan who fled Afghanistan after the transition of power in favor of the Taliban.
Date: May 19, 2022 – Source: The News
Inspired by the success of Trumpian politics, political leaders are adopting a similar populist philosophy in a copycat phenomenon that is slowly evolving into a global populist pandemic. Ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan is a disturbing iteration of this phenomenon.
Defamation case registered against journalist
The Attock police filed a defamation case against journalist Sami Ibrahim, accusing him of making false allegations and attempting to seduce a security employee from his duty.
Date: May 22, 2022 – Source: The News
A group of journalists from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attended a five-day advance training workshop on economic journalism organized by The Governance and Policy Program (GPP) and Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi.
Former Chief Minister serves Rs500 million defamation notice on Awn Chaudhry
Former chief minister Usman Buzdar served a legal notice worth Rs500 million on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) dissident leader Awn Chaudhry for launching ‘a defamatory campaign’ against him through contentious public statements.
Date: May 23, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the authorities to provide 85 per cent of screen time to Pakistani films and remaining 15 per cent to foreign films strictly in accordance with the Censorship of Film Rules.
PFUJ seeks immediate appointment of ITNE judge
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) demanded immediate appointment of a judge of the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employee (ITNE) as the seat has remained vacant for more than two years now.
Date: May 30, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb urged the journalist community and media bodies to adapt to the modern requirements of the profession.
President Alvi felicitates newly elected office-bearers of CPNE
President Dr. Arif Alvi felicitated the newly elected office-bearers of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and hoped that the new leadership would play their role in curbing the publication and promotion of fake and unconfirmed news.
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
Date: May 8, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Sindh Minister for Information and Transport Sharjeel Inam Memon announced to provide plots to 700 remaining members of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) so as to resolve their residential problems.
Date: May 10, 2022 – Source: The News
According to a report furnished by a fact-finding committee formed by the federal government, a contract signed between Pakistan Television (PTV) and a private television channel for broadcast rights of ICC T20 World Cup and Pakistan Super League (PSL) caused a huge loss to the national exchequer.
Date: May 10, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
State-run broadcaster Pakistan Television (PTV) terminated the services of several department heads, and reshuffled key personnel in top positions. The broadcaster’s administration also sealed the offices of terminated officers with their relevant records taken into custody.
Date: May 20, 2022 – Source: The News
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz accused former premier Imran Khan of providing Rs40 billion benefit to media owner Salman Iqbal in the shape of relief on government receivables and tax write-offs.
Date: May 25, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
At the request of Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb announced a proposal to increase advertisement rates for newspapers and magazines by 25 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
Protesters harass television reporter, damage equipment in Karachi
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) activists harassed reporter Chand Nawab and damaged DSNG vehicles and other equipment while protesting outside the office of ARY News in Karachi.
Date: May 1, 2022 – Source: Pakistan press Foundation (PPF)
Journalists expressed anger after television anchorperson Adil Shahzeb disclosed on social media that former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and former chief of staff to the Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill were abusing his family and were threatening to kill him.
Failure to cover Prime Minister’s visit costs PTV officials their jobs
The state-run broadcaster Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) suspended 17 officials for failing to ensure ‘proper’ coverage of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Lahore on their channel.
Date: May 2, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The management of Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) decided to reinstate officials suspended for failing to ensure a ‘proper’ coverage of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Lahore.
Date: May 3, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
It is important to remind state, government and political parties that the concept of a free press is essential to the functioning of any democracy. This becomes all the more important in a country where media freedom has existed more in the abstract than in reality.
Date: May 5, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif berated former premier Imran Khan for media censorship during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) tenure and said his government was committed to freedom of press and speech in the country.
Date: May 5, 2022 – Source: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Since the passing of the successful no-confidence vote against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led (PTI) government, journalists have faced physical assault and online and legal harassment by workers and members belonging to various political parties in the country.
Date: May 6, 2022 – Source: The News
During a press briefing on the World Press Freedom Day, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the United States government was aware of the restrictions imposed on media outlets and civil society in Pakistan and that such curbs were a ‘hindrance to the country’s progress’.
Government orders withdrawal of PECA law appeal filed by FIA
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to withdraw a petition filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), challenging the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC), judgement that declared Section 20 of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) ‘unconstitutional’.
Joint Action Committee concerned at FIA plea on PECA amendment
The media Joint Action Committee (JAC) expressed serious concern and demanded a probe into the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) decision to challenge the nullification of clause 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016, by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Date: May 9, 2022 – Source: The News
Information Secretary Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Farrukh Habib alleged the federal government for starting a targeted operation against journalists. He said that the incumbent government after coming into power deprived many prominent journalists of their jobs.
Prime Minister assures journalists of no curbs on freedom of press, expression
While talking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the federal government does not intend to impose any restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country.
Date: May 9, 2022 – Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb informed the National Assembly that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) operates an effective mechanism to filter out and control airing of ‘objectionable’ content on television.
Date: May 10, 2022 – Source: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Police officers physically assaulted and detained without justification Jahangir Hayat, working as chief reporter for The Daily Business, in Lahore. Authorities also detained his wife and seven-year-old daughter, releasing them 45 minutes after their arrest.
Date: May 10, 2022 – Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Attacks against media workers in Pakistan continue to escalate, with journalist Zia-ur-Rehman fatally attacked by ‘land-grabbers’ in Punjab, and Khawar Mughal tortured by workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at a public meeting in Lahore.
PEMRA directs media not to air content against state institutions
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued directives to private electronic media, warning them of legal action in case of airing content against state institutions as they violate PEMRA Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct, 2015.
World Press Freedom Index: Pakistan ranks 157 out of 180 countries
According to Reporters without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Pakistan dropped further on the list of countries in terms of protection of journalists. The country ranked 157 out of 180 countries on the index.
Inquiry brought against Pakistani journalist under cybercrime act
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) launched a probe and summoned anchorperson Sami Abraham under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) on accusations of levelling false allegations against senior government functionaries.
Date: May 11, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from harassing social media activist of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and issued a stay order against the arrest of anchorperson Sami Ibrahim.
Journalists’ human rights issues taken up with government
While talking to a delegation comprising members from different journalist organizations, Federal Minister for Human Rights Riaz Pirzada said that the government would take up journalists’ human rights violation issues with concerned authorities.
Court instructs authorities to consult PFUJ before initiating action against journalists
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) or any other authority should inform the journalists’ organization or the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) before initiating action against a journalist or media person.
PFUJ calls for repeal of laws gagging media freedom in Pakistan
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) called upon the federal government to repeal all black laws gagging media freedom in the country and ensure complete independence of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
PEMRA warns TV channels over telecasting content against state institutions
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) directed all satellite television channels to refrain from telecasting content against state institutions, including armed forces and the judiciary, in their talk shows, news bulletins and live coverage of public gatherings.
Media bodies protest against enforced disappearance of journalist
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Lahore Press Club (LPC) and other media bodies protested the enforced disappearance of journalist Zahid Abbas Malik from Lahore and expressed concern over the failure of investigation authorities to track him down.
PFUJ alarmed over systematic erosion of media rights
Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed serious concerns on continued political and economic turmoil in the country which may lead to denial of human rights and freedom of press and expression.
Date: May 22, 2022 – Source: Dawn
Criminal cases were registered against journalists Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir and Imran Riaz Khan in different cities for allegedly criticizing state institutions and ‘abetting mutiny’.
Date: May 22, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted a protective bail to television anchorperson Arshad Sharif in a ‘sedition’ case booked on the complaint of a private citizen in Hyderabad.
Pakistani journalists face criminal proceedings for criticizing state institutions
Acting on a string of identical complaints registered by ‘patriotic’ Pakistanis, police authorities launched criminal proceedings against at least six journalists and anchorpersons in retaliation for their vies against state institutions.
Date: May 23, 2022 – Source: Express Tribune
The police in Thatta lodged a case against Express News anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan over a range of offences, including criticizing state institutions, inciting riots and abetting mutiny, on the complaint of a private citizen.
Date: May 23, 2022 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)
Media watchdog Freedom Network (FN) condemned the continuation of cases against journalists Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir, Imran Riaz Khan and Sami Ibrahim and termed them as victims of official harassment for voicing dissenting opinions.
Anti-terrorism court rules citizen journalist’s ‘not terrorism’
An anti-terrorism court (ATC), while declaring that the murder of Nazim Jhokio was not an act of ‘terrorism’, sent the case to a sessions court for trial after hearing arguments from the state prosecutor.
Date: May 25, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) expressed concerned at the registration of sedition and defamation cases against four journalists and urged authorities to respect freedom of press in its entirety without bias in support of certain journalists and anchorpersons.
Date: May 25, 2022 – Source: Dawn
While the Nazir Jhokio murder case remains a hot topic of indoor discussions and debate in streets, law experts see legal hitches in the case which could ultimately benefit the influential elite accused for the crime in the end.
AFP photographer injured while covering anti-government protests in Karachi
Asif Hassan, a photographer working for Agence-France Presse (AFP), was injured and admitted to a hospital while covering anti-government protests led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Karachi.
Transfer of citizen journalist’s murder case challenged
The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the Sindh prosecutor general on an application moved by the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) against the order of an anti-terrorism court (ATC) with regard of citizen journalist Nazim Jhokio’s murder case from the ATC to a sessions court.
Date: May 27, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued pre-admission notices to Jang Group owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman and journalists Ansar Abbasi and Aamir Ghauri on the appeal of former Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) chief judge Rana Shamim in his indictment in a contempt of court case.
Date: May 27, 2022 – Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Multiple journalists and media workers were attacked during protests by members of opposition political party Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in several cities across Pakistan. Media bodies condemned the attacks and urged authorities to apprehend the perpetrators and further protect journalists.
Date: May 27, 2022 – Source: The News
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned attacks on the media, particularly Geo News offices, and violence against journalists and media persons while covering the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) march.
Date: May 28, 2022 – Source: Dawn
The state of press during the rule of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was dismal. Attacking journalists with impunity was routine; legal proposal such as the PMDA Ordinance and PECA Amendment Ordinance were draconian in content; and online defamation campaigns were condemnable.
Court directs government to issue notices over forced disappearances of journalist, others
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed the federal government to serve notices on former president retired General Pervez Musharraf and all successive chief executives, in a case related to missing journalist Mudassar Naro, to clarify their involvement in policies regarding enforced appearances.
Government fires PTV anchorperson for visiting Israel
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murriyum Aurungzeb announced that Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) sacked journalist Ahmed Quraishi for visiting Israel with a delegation comprising Pakistani-Americans.
Date: May 31, 2022 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) instructed media owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman to submit an affidavit along with relevant documents in case pertaining to publishing of an advertisement about a judge.
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.