“Pakistan’s Geo News has been blocked preceding to visit of Prime Minister to US”, hits the headlines world over, although nothing new-fangled for Pakistan. Imposition of restriction on media, assault, abduction, torture and murder of media staffs is an everyday affair and happen to be established norm in Pakistan. Anyone and everyone not toeing the Government line and is critical of Army or any dissent with state policy, remains under incessant threat. The journalists are frequently placed under ‘watch list’ by Pakistan’s Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) and other intelligence agencies as was the case where, at least five Journalists and a Blogger were put under scanner by FIA during visit of Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in February 2019. The country ranks 142 in World Press Freedom Index as per survey conducted in 2019.
Incidences of media blackout
Censoring of media is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan and imposition of restriction is prevalent ever since its creation irrespective of whether it is a military rule or ‘democratic’ elected puppet government alike. It was during General Ayub’s regime when media laws were introduced for the first time and promulgated Press and Publication Ordinance (PPO) in 1962 to exercise strict control over press. The broadcasting media of radio and Television established in 1964 were also brought under control of the Government agencies. Using these rules authorities could shut down publication of any newsitem or arrest journalist.