Being a journalist in Pakistan has never been easy. Multiple press watchdogs suggest that it is only getting worse.
are being targeted, kidnapped and killed in the country by state and non-state actors just by reporting and doing their jobs.
According to data compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists,
61 journalists have been killed in the country since 1992.
Last year, a report by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors noted that the media in Pakistan “continues to be in chains” and are “under a strict form of physical intimidation like killings and
a self-censorship regime”.
This year, press freedom in Pakistan declined by three points and was
ranked 145 out of 180, according to Reporters Without Borders.
“The screws on media in Pakistan are being tightened through various means of censorship, including murders, threats,
and harassment, resulting in increasing silence and resulting in erosion of public interest journalism,” noted the
Freedom Network, a Pakistani media rights watchdog.
VICE News spoke to Ailia Zehra, a 25-year-old news editor at digital media platform Naya Daur. Last week, Zehra did
a commentary on an honour killing case in Balochistan province. She faced a barrage of threats soon after. Zehra spoke about being a female journalist in Pakistan, the themes which antagonise the ruling government, and how she deals with online abuse.
VICE: Tell us about the threats you have recently received.
Ailia Zehra: On September 7, I was live on YouTube speaking about the murder of a female journalist, Shaheena Shaheen in Balochistan province. According to multiple media reports, Shaheen’s husband allegedly killed her to save the family’s
“honour”. She was becoming popular for the work she was doing. I have received death and rape threats since. This is not the first time I am at the receiving end of such comments.