Hina JilaniChairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Lahore, 7 March 2022. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is proud to release its report, Truth Comes at a Price: Censorship and the battle for an independent media. Produced as part of the prestigious I. A. Rehman Research Grant Series, the report was authored by senior journalist Razeshta Sethna and documents the stifling media environment in Pakistan following the 2018 elections, which the author contends has compelled journalists and editors to work at even greater personal risk than before.
Relying on evidence from respondents associated with the print, electronic and digital media, the report documents the frequency and types of attacks on journalists and asks whether such attacks have changed face as journalists increasingly use online platforms to hold power to account.
Sethna finds that the incumbent government has served the interests of the state more than any previous government when it comes to muzzling critical news coverage. She argues that press censorship, regulatory media control mechanisms and intimidating tactics have worsened as the government and security apparatus subvert freedom of expression and access to public information.
The report demonstrates how the media remains hostage to repressive tactics and documents how women journalists in particular have experienced increased threats and harassment in the line of duty. It also shows how both the government and state have pushed the media into a tight corner, compelling owners and editors to follow certain directives or face the consequences. Finally, the report pays particular attention to the media landscape in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where threats to journalists and media blackouts have severely compromised the public’s access to information.