So much for freedom of speech in Pakistan

Rabia Mehmood July 10, 2010
Who said that it is only the extremist elements that cannot stand the free press in this country?

There are in fact numerous groups that would refute this misconception.

First there are the lawyers, who could not stand being recorded beating up unarmed men in a government office in Faisalabad or beating up a policeman. How dare the cameraman show them doing that? And of course, in response they thought it best to simply break a camera or two.

Then there are the doctors, who could not stand having to deal with investigations and coverage of news stories highlighting their malpractice. So, they decided to beat up reporters. Note: one of the stories of malpractice being covered involved the death of a three-year-old at a very expensive medical facility in Lahore.

Let’s not forget that a just few months back even the presidency had issues with the media and had started taking offence at what the television channels were talking about.

And now, we have our so called big-hearted Punjab Assembly here. I am unable to comprehend as to what exactly they want from the media? Do they want the media to not call a fake degree ‘fake’ or jaali but rather call it asli? Or, do they want a complete and utter denial of all the things that they have been up to.

And to top it all off, they have resorted to name calling, tears as well as throw-downs. So much for their false notions of izzat.

I mean it must be all Musharraf's fault right? Had he not concocted the evil plan to manipulate poor Pakistani MPAs, MNAs and Senators, they would not have been ‘forced’ to lie and violate the law.

Well, at least Shahbaz Sharif would be relieved now since in the wake of the Data Darbar attacks the focus has finally shifted away from his favorite law minister.

I believe there are enough reasons to assert that ‘Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists,’ and hence it deserves to be added to yet another list compiled by an independent monitoring agency, no?
Rabia Mehmood A reporter at the Lahore Bureau of Express 24/7 and a IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow at the Center for International Studies, MIT.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Usman Zafar | 12 years ago | Reply @Kiran: I don't think that the media needs to add any spice to issues like the Fake degree situation. One just needs to hear the comments made against it in the Punjab Assembly. If anything, the spice was added by the Assembly members who accused journalists, judiciary, and (j)enerals of undermining democracy. The only problem is that our politicians are just not used to the idea of accountability, which is now coming from a media far more independent than ten years ago. This is not misguidance, but whistleblowing. @ Abbas Cheema: I fail to see a single cogent argument in your post, but given that you have extensive experience pertaining to pretty much all the affairs of the State, I would really like to know how the media's exposure of societal issues like fake degrees, or medical negligence does not qualify as "Pro-Pakistan". Perhaps we are too content to overlook societal evils as some kind of taboo topic that everyone knows about, but no one wants to discuss. And when someone points them out, people oppose it, because they don't want to see the dark side of the moon. Ignorance is not limited to the illiterate. It extends to the educated and the elites as well. But ignorance is not always bliss, especially not when it concerns your country.
Issam Ahmed | 12 years ago | Reply Abbas hasn't made a single rebuttal to any of the specific examples you talked about, because he doesn't really have a coherent argument. Sure the media in Pakistan oversteps at times and corruption and blackmailing does exist. But there's nothing to excuse the behaviour of the individuals you cited in your article and to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous. Also risible is the line about the media being anti-Pakistan -- can never fathom how some people think that holding the government accountable for its actions is somehow UNpatriotic. Democracy 101, people.
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