RSF report lacks evidence, an attempt to malign Pakistan: Govt

Pakistan Govt rebuffs allegations in the latest RSF report

Pakistan government has termed the latest Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) report “an attempt to malign the elected representative of the people of Pakistan, without any corroborative evidence” insisting that the organization should avoid such irresponsible journalism.

Rebuffing the allegations in the 2021 report of Reporters Without Borders, also known as RSF, the official statement says “It is quite surprising that RSF has jumped to the conclusion that media in Pakistan is under ‘increasingly draconian censorship measures by Khan’s government’, despite the fact that the current government has been taking all possible measures to create a congenial environment for journalists to perform their professional obligations.”

Contrary to the RSF’s report the government does not believe in issuing press advice and encourages self-regulation by the media, the statement said.

Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape with 43 international media channels, 112 private TV channels, 258 FM channels and 1569 publications. The size of the media speaks volumes about the robustness of the media in Pakistan, the government said.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government believes in the freedom of expression and media independence which is evident from the unanimous approval of the Journalist Protection Bill by the Cabinet which would go a long way in ensuring the safety and security of the journalist community.” The Constitution of Pakistan itself guarantees the freedom of expression under Articles 19 and 19-A. The Federal Government promulgated the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 which ensures that every citizen shall have the right of access to information in all matters of public importance.

The reference to the ‘deep state’ is misplaced. All the institutions of Pakistan are working in cohesion and at the same time guarding their own independence and autonomy” the official statement reads.

Pakistan’s current prime minister is the elected head of government and has the resounding support of the people of Pakistan. “The level of criticism that is faced by the government and the military is unheard of even in the developed world.”

“The insinuation that journalists choose to live abroad due to security reasons and that they have been subjected to intimidation and attacks even in the countries where they choose to live is nothing but ludicrous. Is the security of people outside Pakistan, also a responsibility of the Pakistani government?”

Responding to the claim that troll armies harass and vilify all journalists and bloggers who criticize the ruling government, the government says the allegations are “far from the truth.”

The government in fact utilizes fake news busters to tackle online misinformation and disinformation in order to quash false news, reads the statement. “This practice is in complete consonance with the universal ethics of responsible journalism.”

It was also pointed out that there have been several instances in which unverified news about Pakistan made it to the headlines in foreign print and electronic media, causing significantly irreparable damage to the repute of the country.

“The recent news story published in a well-known British newspaper about the sexual assault of a young woman of Pakistan origin, after returning from the UK, to attend her father’s funeral. The police investigation confirmed later that she had never traveled to the UK and the reported accused was actually her husband.”

RSF Report

RSF has published “a gallery of grim portraits, those of 37 heads of state or government who launched a crackdown massively on press freedom.”

“There are now 37 leaders from around the world in RSF’s predators of press freedom gallery and no one could say this list is exhaustive,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

Besides Prime Minister Imran Khan, the RSF list includes Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emamoli Rakhmon, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, King of Bahrain Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa and Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un.

The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam were the first women added to the group. 

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