fbpx mmnews

Declining press freedom

Freedom of the press is a fundamental right in a democratic society. However, the state of press freedom has been declining in countries across the world fuelled by information chaos and media polarisation creating divisions between societies and countries.

The 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) highlights the disastrous impact of news and information chaos. It blames “globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda” for the worsening situation. It is also weakening democratic countries and allowing despotic regimes to control their media.

A record 28 countries are rated “very bad” places for journalism as billions of people in countries such Russia, China and Saudi Arabia struggle to access journalism without censorship and reporters faces severe  threats to their lives. Even democratic societies are seen increasing social and political tension fuelled by the social media.

According to the report, Pakistan has fallen by 12 places to 157 out of 180 countries. Last year, Pakistan was ranked 145 on the list. The situation is so bad that Pakistan is now even ranked below war-torn Afghanistan where the Taliban took control last year.  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has blamed the previous government of Imran Khan for the declining press freedom in the country, saying it not only earned him the shameful title of ‘press freedom predator’ but also placed democracy in a bad light.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that restrictions on freedom of expression undermine Pakistan’s image and its ability to progress. There have been increasing concerns over the restrictions imposed on media outlets and civil society which needs to be highlighted. Unfortunately, Pakistan is still considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists who dare expose crime and corruption or being critical of government policies.

It should be a matter of concern that Pakistan slid 12 places within a single year. The previous government did attempt to consolidate media control by forming the disastrous Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA). It also passed the draconian PECA Ordinance which criminalised criticism of state institutions. These are responsible for the declining press freedom in the country.

The weakening press freedom leaves citizens uninformed and unable to hold their government to account. The government should shun authoritarian attitudes towards the media and provide a conducive environment for journalism. This will help makes us a democratic and progressive society.

Comments: 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *