Pakistan Media Monitor – May 2024

Pakistan Media Monitor Report – May 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. 5  May 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

PHC directs government to appoint information commissioners in 30 days

Date: May 6, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) directed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to complete within 30 days the appointment process of two information commissioners under the provincial right to information law. 

SIFC takes note of delay in launch of direct-to-home television services

Date: May 16, 2024 – Source: The News

The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), established and led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, took strict note of the delay in the launch of direct-to-home (DTH) television services in Pakistan.

Parliamentarians issued contempt notices for airing views about judiciary

Date: May 18, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court (SC) issued contempt charges against two lawmakers, Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal, for their outbursts on media against the judiciary. 

Government notifies panel to hold consultation on amending PECA 2016

Date: May 21, 2024 – Source: The News

The federal government notified an eight-member special committee to hold consultation on amendments to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016.

Court orders live telecast of missing persons cases

Date: May 25, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the live telecast of all cases relating to enforced disappearances, as its senior puisne judge summoned the officials of intelligence agencies and top government officials during a hearing of a petition seeking recovery of missing poet Ahmed Farhad.

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

Defamation bill proposing fines, account blockade presented in Punjab Assembly

Date: May 14, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 was presented in the Punjab Assembly, proposing to slap fines and suspend or block the social media accounts of offenders found guilty of disseminating defamatory content. 

LPC opposes Punjab government’s purposed defamation legislation

Date: May 15, 2024 – Source: The News

In a statement, the Lahore Press Club (LPC) opposed the Punjab government’s proposed Defamation Law 2024, urging authorities to uphold the principles of truth and transparency. 

Punjab government ‘allays’ fears over proposed defamation law

Date: May 16, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Punjab Information Minister Azma Bokhari said that the proposed defamation law was meant to weed out ‘fake news’ and only a person ‘who lies under the guise of a journalist with a specific agenda’ will face the music.  

Media bodies express serious concerns over Punjab Defamation Bill 2024

Date: May 17, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) expressed serious concern over the proposed Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 in its current form and the proposed federal government ‘Digital Media Authority’.

Gender imbalance highlighted in portrayal of women in media

Date: May 17, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Participants attending a media dialogue on ‘Gender Representation in Election Coverage’ hosted by UKS Research Center in Karachi highlighted the lack of women representation at media platforms in Pakistan. 

Pakistan’s 3D film set for Cannes showcase

Date: May 17, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The producers of Pakistan’s 3D-animated feature film The Chronicles of Umro Ayyar announced that their film is scheduled to be showcased at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

PFUJ assails ‘fascist’ move to amend defamation law

Date: May 18, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the federal and Punjab governments’ move to amend the defamation law, terming it a fascist and draconian step to stifle dissenting voices and curb media freedom. 

Man booked for uploading blasphemous post

Date: May 19, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Sialkot police booked a man for uploading alleged blasphemous material on social media and registered a case against him. It was reported that the accused was residing abroad from where he had uploaded the post. 

Punjab PA passes defamation bill amid opposition, media protest

Date: May 21, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Business Recorder (BR)

The Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 amid strong protest from the opposition members, as the amendments proposed by them were rejected by the treasury.

Outcry over ‘draconian’ bill passed by Punjab Assembly

Date: May 21, 2024 – Source: The News

Journalists and legal experts who have seen a copy of the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024 termed it as ‘draconian’ and an effort to silence independent voice by expanding the ambit of criminal defamation. 

The defamation conundrum

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Duplication of laws, vague definitions of terms such as ‘journalist’ and ‘newspaper’, the imposition of preliminary fines without a trial, and the exclusion of the umbrella of the law of evidence: these are just some of the glaring issues pointed out by critics of the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024. 

NA opposition leader rejects defamation law

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly (NA) Omar Ayub Khan rejected the Punjab government’s defamation law, saying the people cannot be deprived of the constitutional rights. 

Punjab governor may refer defamation bill back to PA after PPP’s wrath

Date: May 23, 2024 – Source: The News

Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Haider is likely to refer the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 back to the Punjab Assembly, as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) distanced itself from the controversial bill. 

PPP distances itself from defamation legislation in Punjab 

Date: May 23, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

As the government finds itself under fire from all quarters over the controversial defamation bill, its key ally, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) decided to distance itself from the legislation amid mounting pressures. 

Governor asks Punjab government to review defamation bill

Date: May 24, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Khan said that there was a need to review the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024, revealing his intention of sending it back to the Punjab Assembly for the purpose. 

Punjab cabinet approves more cases against PTI leaders for hate speech

Date: May 25, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Punjab cabinet approved a ‘fresh legal action’ against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) founding chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in manufacturing a ‘narrative of hate’ against state institutions, especially the army. 

Punjab governor pledges talks with all stakeholders on defamation bill

Date: May 27, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Punjab Governor Sardar Saleem Haider pledged further consultation with all stakeholders on the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024, assuring a delegation of various journalist bodies that the bill will be signed only after the consultation is conclusive. 

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  

Supreme Court clarifies no order issued for removal of hawkers

Date: May 9, 2024 – Source: Dawn

A detailed rejoinder sent by the registrar of the Supreme Court (SC) clarified that an earlier order of the apex court ‘does not direct the removal of street hawkers.

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

WAF condemns target killing of journalist

Date: May 6, 2024 – Source: The News

Women’s Action Forum (WAF) condemned the target killing of journalist Siddique Mengal in Khuzdar, who is the third head of the Khuzdar Press Club (KPC) to be target killed.  

Islamabad High Court to act over social media campaign against Justice Sattar

Date: May 7, 2024 – Source: The News

A decision has been made to act against those running a social media campaign against Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). According to sources, a decision has been made to initiate contempt of court proceedings. 

Missing social media activist: PHC seeks reply in seven days

Date: May 7, 2024 – Source: The News

The Peshawar High Court issued notices to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general, police chief and attorney general to submit a reply within seven days in a writ petition filed by the wife of Kamran Khan, the missing social media activist associated with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). 

Another judge seeks contempt case over online vilification

Date: May 8, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sought contempt proceedings over a complaint filed against him and his alleged vilification on social media platforms. 

Prime Minister greenlights PECA law tweaks to regulate social media

Date: May 9, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: The Print

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a draft for amending the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 to regulate social media platforms operating in the country. 

Two benches formed to hear judges’ complaints regarding online vilification campaigns

Date: May 9, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Aamer Farooq constituted two different larger benches to hear complaints of judges’ regarding social media campaigns against them. 

Tweetless in Pakistan

Date: May 9, 2024 – Source: The News

Almost three months have passed since the ban on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in Pakistan. Government functionaries, on the pretext of fake news, propaganda and malicious content on X, have made it clear that they are not ready to allow citizens access to the banned platform. 

A tighter muzzle

Date: May 10, 2024 – Source: The News

The infamous Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 is seemingly about to get a major shot in the arm. PECA, which digital activists say is used to target journalists and muzzle free speech, will now be amended to establish a Digital Rights Protection Authority (DRPA). 

PFUJ pays tribute to heroes of press freedom in 1978

Date: May 13, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) hailed sacrifices and struggle of heroes of movement launched for freedom of press and free speech, as they stood up against the dictatorial regime of General Zia-ul-Haq for the freedom of press and rights of journalists. 

Confidential data leak to attract trial under Secrets Act

Date: May 14, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif warned that those who leak confidential documents or information to the public will face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. 

Petitioner seeking media regulation gets contempt notice

Date: May 14, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Three of the six pro bono litigants, who had sought regulation of media freedom by filing a joint but mysterious petition in 2022, disclosed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) that their names were misused as they never consented to file the case before being issued with contempt notices.

Supreme Court dissatisfied with probe into journalists’ torture, harassment case

Date: May 14, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Pakistan Today

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) declared as unsatisfactory a police investigation into journalists’ torture and harassment case, and ordered to appoint competent officers for probing the matter. 

CPNE opposes Punjab defamation law

Date: May 14, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The Standing Committee of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) held a meeting to discuss the defamation law proposed by the Punjab government and termed it as a restriction on freedom of the press and freedom of expression. 

Secretive state

Date: May 15, 2024 – Source: Dawn

There is a fresh push by the state to stamp out all criticism by using the alibi of protecting national interests. The defense minister’s post on X only strengthens this impression, though the irony of a government official using a platform blocked by his administration to convey the message is bizarre.

Journalist gunned down by unidentified assailants in Muzaffargarh 

Date: May 16, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Ashfaque Ahmed Sial, a reporter working with Urdu daily Khabrein, was allegedly gunned down by two motorcyclists in Muzaffargarh. Following the incident, police officials informed the media that several teams were conducting raids to apprehend the culprits. 

Supreme Court dampens PTI supporters’ expectations, restricts livestreaming of proceedings

Date: May 17, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) dampened the excitement of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters by not allowing the livestream of its proceedings in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law amendments case. 

Police, officials lock Quetta Press Club to block BYC seminar

Date: May 19, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The police and local administration locked the gates of the Quetta Press Club (QPC) to stop the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) members from holding a seminar and addressing participants. 

Journalists protest over ban on mobile phones in press gallery

Date: May 19, 2024 – Source: Dawn

A group of news reporters covering proceedings of the National Assembly (NA) decided to lodge a protest over a decision made by Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq banning the use of mobile phones in the parliament’s press gallery.

Supreme Court warns media over airing Vawda, Kamal’s ‘contemptuous’ pressers

Date: May 19, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court (SC) restrained television channels and other media outlets from broadcasting, rebroadcasting or publishing the ‘contemptuous’ pressers of lawmakers Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal, warning that failing to do so would attract contempt proceedings against them. 

Probe finds student was shot dead in call center while making TikTok video

Date: May 19, 2024 – Source: Dawn

A day after the body of a 16-year-old student was found in a call center in Karachi, investigators said that he was accidentally shot and killed during making of a TikTok video by his friend. 

Journalists to launch protest against locking of Quetta Press Club

Date: May 20, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) and Quetta Press Club (QPC) decided to launch a country-wide protest campaign against the locking of the press club by the district administration and police. 

Journalists boycott assembly proceeding over locking of Quetta Press Club

Date: May 21, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Journalists covering the assembly session boycotted the proceedings to protest against the lockdown of the Quetta Press Club (QPC) and the entry of police into the premises to stop a seminar organized for the Balochistan Yakjehti Committee (BYC).

Supreme Court frames questions on ‘mysterious’ media regulation plea

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Supreme Court (SC), hearing a ‘mysterious’ petition seeking regulation of media freedom, framed nine questions to be answered by a senior lawyer and an advocate on record (AoR) through respective affidavits explaining who had instructed and engaged them to file such plea. 

Journalist seriously injured after attempt on life

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source: Dawn

A journalist working for a Sindhi newspaper was left fighting for his life after he suffered serious gunshot wounds in an attack by unidentified assailants near Mirpur Mathelo.

Social media activist shot dead in North Waziristan 

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Freedom Network (FN)

Social media activist Kamran Dawar succumbed to his injuries after he was shot by unidentified gunmen as he was on his way home in North Waziristan’s Tappi area. 

Government seeks Rs20 billion to defang social media

Date: May 22, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The federal government sought Rs20 billion for the next fiscal year to enhance Pakistan’s cybersecurity and regulate social media. The proposal includes allowing operations only for social media platforms that are willing to set up offices in the country. 

Former PM seeks live telecast, personal attendance at NAB hearing

Date: May 23, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Press Trust of India (PTI)

Incarcerated former prime minister Imran Khan sought personal appearance and livestreaming of the Supreme Court (SC) proceedings on his petition seeking to set aside the amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) introduced by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance. 

Critically injured reporter airlifted to Karachi

Date: May 23, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Nasrullah Gadani, reporter of a Sindhi newspaper, was shifted to Karachi via air ambulance in a very critical condition. He had suffered serious gunshot wounds in an attack by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants in Mirpur Mathelo.

Journalists’ bodies reject PEMRA notification on covering courts

Date: May 23, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Arab News, Source 3: Digital Rights Monitor (DRM) 

The Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) and the Islamabad High Court Journalists Association (IHCJA) rejected the notification of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) prohibiting television channels for airing tickers/headlines with regard to court proceedings. 

ANP condemns ban on reporting of judicial proceedings

Date: May 24, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Awami National Party (ANP) expressed its concerns over the ban on reporting of judicial proceedings and described it against the principle of freedom of expression. 

High courts moved against PEMRA’s ban on court coverage

Date: May 24, 2024 – Source: The News

Three separate petitions were filed in Sindh, Lahore, and Islamabad high courts against Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) notification prohibiting television channels from news of court proceedings. 

IHC, LHC issue notices to PEMRA on court reporting ban

Date: May 25, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Pakistan Today 

The Lahore and Islamabad high courts issued notices to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) after hearing petitions challenging its notifications prohibiting television channels from airing news of court proceedings and directing them to only report on written orders. 

Commission for newsmen protection asks IG to form new body to probe journalist’s killing

Date: May 27, 2024 – Source: Dawn

While no first information report (FIR) has been lodged in connection with the murder of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, the commission for the protection of journalists and other media practitioners (CJMP) asked the inspector general of police (IGP) to form a new body to investigate the case. 

Sindh High Court restrains PEMRA from enforcing court reporting ban

Date: May 30, 2024 – Source: Dawn

While the Sindh High Court (SHC) restrained the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) from enforcing its court reporting ban, a Lahore High Court (LHC) judge observed that a larger bench should decide the petitions challenging the ban. 

OBJECTIVESThis 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 SOURCESThis 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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