RSF Warns Pakistan not to Threaten Journalists

  • The letter reportedly expressed concern over the alleged "anti-Pakistan activities" of one Afghan and five Pakistani journalists based abroad.
  • According to RSF, the memo was for five high-ranking personalities.
  • “Let’s not be fooled, the Pakistani intelligence agencies could have leaked this document in an attempt to poison public opinion and intimidate the journalists it names.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the international organization for the protection of journalists, has expressed deep concern over a “secret letter” from Pakistani security officials about six overseas journalists. In a statement issued on Wednesday, RSF said that the “secret memo” of the Interior Ministry was written on June 18.

Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters sans frontières (RSF), is a leading international non-profit and non-governmental organization that safeguards the right to freedom of information. Its mandate is to promote free, independent and pluralistic journalism and to defend media workers.

The letter reportedly expressed concern over the alleged “anti-Pakistan activities” of one Afghan and five Pakistani journalists based in Europe and the United States. The six have been accused of publishing “anti-state content” in the international media, so “their movements need to be closely monitored on their social media accounts.”

The letter further instructed that “they can be formally contacted and asked to stop talking against Pakistan in the future.” The names of six journalists for security reasons have not been released.

According to RSF, the memo was for five high-ranking personalities, including the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister in the Ministry of Information, the DG Military Intelligence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Let’s not be fooled, the Pakistani intelligence agencies could have leaked this document in an attempt to poison public opinion and intimidate the journalists it names,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“Even if it is not an official memo, the sinister nature of the suggestion that journalists based abroad should be ‘approached through proper channels’ is extremely shocking. We will pay close attention to the safety of the reporters named in this memo and we will know who to hold responsible if any of them, or a member of their family is subjected to threats or intimidation.”

In its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, RSF ranked Pakistan 145th out of 180 countries. The military still exercises considerable control and citizenship despite nominal civilian rule.

An attempt was made to contact the ISPR to ascertain their position in this regard, but their position was not forthcoming. Pakistani officials have denied such allegations in the past. According to RSF, the memo was not officially released and appears to be a draft document, but it is not clear who leaked the post or why.

It has been more than seventy years since Pakistan became independent, but so far neither journalism nor freedom of expression is free, not even for an ordinary citizen. In the current situation, various restrictions are being imposed, no one can express their views freely on social media or regular media. Even the news is being filtered and broadcast. Understand for a moment that civil martial law is being used.

The situation of journalism and journalists in Pakistan is very disturbing. Freedom of the press is at stake. Journalists are assassinated without fear, and their killers roam free. Today’s censorship is worse than dictatorship. This is undeclared martial law.

The crime of intimidation, disappearance, and murder of journalists for writing and speaking the truth is not avoided. However, even doing so does not end the truth. Today’s Pakistani journalist is the most insecure because when journalists are attacked, even their own employers do not help or support them.

It has become extremely difficult to carry out journalistic responsibilities, especially in the stress-stricken area.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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