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. 10  October 2023 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

Conference explores challenges in access to online information for Pakistan’s marginalized communities

Date: October 1, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

UNESCO, in collaboration with the Peace and Justice Network (PJN) and the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), organized a conference aimed at bolstering access to online information and assistance for Pakistan’s marginalized minority communities.

Punjab police loath to release data of violence against women

Date: October 5, 2023 – Source: The News

The Punjab Police sought an exemption to stop releasing information on incidents of violence against women in the province under the Access to Information Act, 2013.

Pakistan Information Commission orders deduction of 100 days’ salary of PIA CEO

Date: October 5, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) ordered deduction of 100 days’ salary of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for failing to provide requested information to appellants, despite clear orders from the Commission. 

Access to information law does not apply to Supreme Court, bench holds

Date: October 17, 2023 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) ordered its office to provide completion information about its staff strength to a private citizen. However, the bench made it clear that the Access to Information Act, 2017 does not apply to the Supreme Court. 

In a first, Supreme Court releases information under Article 19-A

Date: October 25, 2023 – Source: The News

In a first, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) provided the information a citizen had struggled to obtain for more than four years by invoking the Right of Access to Information Act (2017) and Article 19-A of the Constitution. 

Access to information: Two excise officers fined for not making information public

Date: October 27, 2023 – Source: The News

The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) imposed a Rs50,000 fine each on Director Excise and an officer for not making information public, information of taxation in posh areas of Lahore under the Access to Information Act. 

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

Confessional box

Date: October 10, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Television’s prime is over. News channels that is. But in Pakistan, like many other truths, an artificial ecosystem keeps it alive, as it does other industries. However, the reality escapes everyone. For artificial resuscitation has everyone who wants to be fooled in a state of denial. 

What did the televised trial experiment achieve?

Date: October 13, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Through proceedings on the challenges to the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 are over, the five hearings broadcasted live, gave way to an impression that the apex court is not averse to public and parliamentary accountability. 

ECP issues code of conduct for national, foreign observers, media

Date: October 15, 2023 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the code of conduct for international, national observers and media, calling for strict adherence to the law and impartiality during general elections. 

Legislators summon PEMRA, private news channel over broadcast of fake news

Date: October 20, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A legislative body of the Senate summoned representatives from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and a private news channel to explain their position over the broadcast of alleged ‘fake and malicious’ news on the private channel’s transmission. 

Senate body annoyed by the absence of representatives of private news channel

Date: October 20, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Senate Committee on Rules and Privileges expressed its displeasure over the absence of representation from a private news channel during a meeting it called to discuss the airing of fake 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  

Pakistani journalists faced with unemployment, salary reduction

Date: October 1, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

According to the President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Afzal Butt, more than 10,000 journalists and media workers have been laid off from their jobs since 2017. Furthermore, employed media persons continue to complain regarding reduction in their salaries despite economic challenges. 

Endowment fund: Sindh minister wants rules amended to facilitate journalists

Date: October 11, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Caretaker Minster for Information Mian Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel underscored the need for amending the rules governing the Journalists Welfare Endowment Fund (JWEF) to better financially support journalists.  

Digital company issued notice over journalist’s damages suit

Date: October 12, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

A local court in Peshawar issued notice to a digital news company over a damages suit filed by journalist claiming that his employment contract was arbitrarily cancelled causing mental torture and stress to him. 

Government can suspend issuance of advertisements to channels over non-payment of salaries

Date: October 19, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Chairman Mirza Saleem Baig said the government had power to suspend issuance of advertisements to television channels that do not pay salaries to their employees. 

APNS, CPNE reject Prime Minister’s remarks about print media’s business model

Date: October 26, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Business Recorder (BR)

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) took exception to caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar’s remarks where he described the print media’s business model as ‘absolutely flawed’. 

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

Online, unsafe and censored

Date: October 1, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Laiba Zainab, a journalist based in Lahore, works for an online news platform. She has been repeatedly subjected to online harassment and trolling leading her to adopt a form of self-censorship when expressing herself on social and digital media platforms. 

Focusing journalists’ safety during upcoming general elections

Date: October 1, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

As Pakistan gears up for general elections, concerns about the safety and freedom of press have taken center stage. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Pakistan’s political parties to ensure that journalists and media workers perform their duties in a safe and free environment.

In Pakistan, women journalists are breaking barriers in the face of online harassment

Date: October 2, 2023 – Source: International Journalists’ Network (IJN)

Attacks and censorship targeting women reporters are key contributors to Pakistan’s declining press freedom. Women journalists remain frequent targets of harassment on social media. Attacks include gender-based slurs, threats of violence, and attempts to hack into their online accounts.

ATC extends suspects’ remand in journalist’s murder case

Date: October 3, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Sukkur extended the judicial remand of suspected persons in the murder case of journalist Jan Muhammad Mahar and sent them back to jail. 

As Pakistan approaches a crucial election, its media watchdog bans critical voices from television

Date: October 3, 2023 – Source: Reuters Institute (RI)

PEMRA, Pakistan’s media regulator, directed all television channels to stop giving airtime to eleven people: a group including journalists and analysts considered close to former Prime Minister Imran Khan and individuals accused of criticizing state institutions. 

PPF condemns threats to newsman in South Waziristan

Date: October 4, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemned threats made by a local jirga in South Waziristan regarding demolition of journalist Miraj Khalid Wazir’s property after he posted his disagreement with their decisions on social media platforms. 

Freedom Network urges government to protect rights of exiled Afghan journalists

Date: October 4, 2023 – Source: Freedom Network (FN)

Media rights defender Freedom Network (FN) urged Pakistan’s federal authorities to protect rights of exiled Afghan journalists as the government announced a campaign to deport illegal foreigners. 

Political, religious parties continue to target critical journalists

Date: October 6, 2023 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Where governments and government institutions create obstacles in the way of freedom of press, the workers of some political and religious parties also harass media workers for not getting adequate coverage or for broadcasting news against their party and narrative. 

Islamabad High Court puts former army chief, spymaster on notice for flouting Secrets Act

Date: October 10, 2023 – Source: Dawn

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued notices to former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, ex-spymaster Faiz Hamid and two journalists, in response to a petition seeking legal proceedings for allegedly flouting the Official Secrets Act. 

HRCP deplores ‘co-option’ of Pakistani media

Date: October 11, 2023 – Source: Express Tribune

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) deplored the alleged ‘co-option’ of Pakistani media. It claimed that powers that be are compelling media houses to broadcast interviews of politicians, who went missing after the May 9 riots and, on being recovered, disassociated from their party. 

Over 200 Afghan journalists In Pakistan face deportation amid crackdown on illegal immigrants 

Date: October 10, 2023 – Source 1: Arab News, Source 2: Freedom Network (FN)

With over 200 Afghan journalists and their families facing deportation from Pakistan, a federation of Afghan journalists urged the Pakistani government to reconsider their decision to expel them from the country. 

Supreme Court clears news director of sedition charges

Date: October 18, 2023 – Source: Dawn

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) dismissed a first information report (FIR) against ARY News Director Ammad Yousaf, asserting that sedition charges against the media person not only threatened the broadcaster but also had a chilling effect on the media industry. 

Slain journalist’s wife gets murder case registered against Kenyan police

Date: October 20, 2023 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Javeria Siddique, wife of slain journalist Arshad Sharif, got a case registered against the Kenyan Elite Police force for murdering her husband in Nairobi. 

Islamabad High Court told President used discretionary power to appoint PCP chairman

Date: October 21, 2023 – Source: Dawn

President Dr Arif Alvi used his discretion to appoint the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) chairman. The stance was taken by the Presidency in response to a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) by one of the aspirants for the position that had been vacant since July 2019. 

One year after assassination, no justice for slain journalist

Date: October 23, 2023 – Source: The News

Kenya’s President Dr William Ruto held a number of meetings with regard to the death of journalist Arshad Sharif but he has been met with a wall of silence and unable to do anything to bring the Pakistani journalist’s killers to justice.

RSF assails ‘duplicity’ in journalist’s murder probe

Date: October 25, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Following a year-long investigation into the murder of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused authorities in both counties of being uncooperative and engaging in ‘duplicity’.

Journalist hurt as assailants open fire on motorcycle in Kohat

Date: October 29, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Journalist Yasir Shah, affiliated with a private television channel, was injured when he fell from his motorcycle after unknown assailants opened fire on him in Kohat. 

Law made, but no let-up in persecution of journalists

Date: October 30, 2023 – Source: Dawn

Eleven journalists were killed in Pakistan over the past two years with the country ranked 150 out of 180 in 2023, after it became the first country in the world to make laws on the safety of media professionals. 

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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