By Francesca Marino
Rome [Italy], September 05 (ANI): Imran Khan does it again. In an interview to the Arab network-- Al Jazeera, the Pakistani prime minister goes back to one of his favourite topics: Freedom of press. Repeating once again the same (most probably written) speech with the same words and the same arguments.
According to him, media in Pakistan are freer than in the UK and since he came to power the country has practically become La La Land for journalists and reporters. True, sometimes somebody "has been taken for a few hours and we don't know why", but the media are basically free. Pity is, no international (or national) organizations agree with Imran Khan.
According to the latest report published by Reporters Sans Frontieres: "Pakistani media, which has a long tradition of being very lively, has become a priority target for the country's "deep state," a euphemism for the constant maneuvering by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the main military intelligence agency, to subjugate the civilian executive. The influence of this military "establishment," which cannot stand independent journalism, has increased dramatically since Imran Khan became prime minister in July 201."
"There have been many cases of brazen censorship in which the military has used a number of methods for exercising pressure," the report stated.
The report goes on pointing out that: "Distribution of newspapers, especially the leading daily Dawn, has been interrupted. Media outlets have been threatened with the withdrawal of advertising. The signals of TV channels that gave airtime to opposition representatives have been jammed. Journalists who dared to broach subjects deemed off-limits by the military have been subjected to ISI-orchestrated harassment campaigns".
Last year Steven Butler, the Asian Program Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, was forced to leave the country. According to him: "There is no doubt that press freedom is under assault in Pakistan. Journalists cannot work freely and do their job of supporting Pakistani democracy when they are under constant attack".
The list of journalists, both Pakistani and foreigners, threatened and forced to flee the country or to stop working is long and widely known. And the list includes also scholars, bloggers, and activists.
According to RSF, in 2019 four journalists and a blogger have been killed in Pakistan in connection with their work. And Freedom Network, a Pakistani organisation, gives an even worst picture of the situation.
Its latest report titled 'Murders, harassment and assault: The tough wages of journalism in Pakistan' documents 91 assaults against journalists, seven killings, and a long list of different kinds of violations and threats, from injuries to econo0mic threats.
According to the same report, the State and its functionaries and agencies emerged as the main actors in threatening the media. In more than 42 percent of cases, the victims and their families pointed the fingers towards the authorities and the intelligence. And the percentage could be much higher: the families and victimis, if and when they escape or are released, are badly threatened of dire consequences if they say anything.
During these past few months, things have got much worse because journalists and activists are not anymore safe even abroad. The activist Gul Bukhari, who lives in London, has been threatened for the umpteenth time; the blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya has been beaten in Holland out of his house; the body of Sajid Hussain, a Baloch journalist, has been found in Sweden after a month he had disappeared.
While Idris Khattak, a former Amnesty International worker, is still 'missing' after a year. In this case, things are even worse: the family has been told in fact (after a year) that Idris has been taken by the Army and charged with a military act.
This means he has been (or will be, it is unclear) taken in front of a military tribunal, without lawyers and the charges against him will not be made public. This is the first time a military act is used against a civilian, according to jurists is against the Constitution, but nobody cares. For sure, does not care the former champion of human and civil rights Imran Khan.
Who apparently lives in a dystopian world where he sees only what he wants to see and where a lie becomes truth if you repeat it enough times. After the interview, in fact, only a few hours later, Sajjid Gondal, a former Dawn reporter, and SECP Joint Director has gone 'missing'.
According to his colleagues, he was investigating the chairman of CPEC, retired Lieutenant general Saleem Bajwa. True Mr Khan, the press in Pakistan is absolutely free. Free to be abducted, of course. (ANI)