Journalism has become somewhat an arduous profession in a country like Pakistan where ‘freedom of press’ has become a myth as it has been suppressed or controlled over the time during different political regimes. The freedom of speech in Pakistan continues to be one of the biggest threats for journalists- threatening journalists both physically and digitally. In this difficult time, the journalist community and private media are fighting to protect their rights and struggling to survive. This hindrance has affected the personal and professional lives of journalists and created barriers in circulating and broadcasting of news across the country.
In recent years we have witnessed that journalists and activists are now worried about secure communications after the disclosure of increased use of surveillance technologies in Pakistan. When an external party gains unauthorized access to a journalist’s information, it could possibly threaten the physical safety of both the journalist and the sources from where that evidence was collected. This could also be used to prevent the journalist from reporting on a story, or worse could put her or him in jeopardy.
Over the years journalists in Pakistan have been persecuted, threatened and killed for speaking the truth, facing many threats from the government, religious fanatics and armed forces for showing the reality to the masses. The increasing rate of persecutions against journalists indicates that freedom of speech is not protected, putting journalists on a perilous path while they struggle to survive and fight for their rights for free speech. It has made it difficult for the journalists, prospective journalists, bloggers and private media to expand and flourish.
Despite the constitutional freedom of speech in Pakistan, journalists still face countless challenges while they report from conflict zones. The undeniable external interference of the religious and various political parties in Pakistan has left journalists circumscribed regarding freedom of speech.
Unless the media in Pakistan is completely unconstrained to publish or broadcast any news, the journalists will always be under some sort of ‘pressure’ from the government, religious parties and armed forces to undertake their tasks freely and impartially according to the expectations of the people.