Islamabad [Pakistan], September 29 (ANI): As the general elections are approaching, media organisations in Pakistan on Thursday urged the mainstream and regional political parties to come up with concrete measures in favour of press freedom, reported The News International.
Several entities, including Pakistan's leading press clubs, national and provincial unions of journalists, Paris-based global media watchdog organisation 'Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) and RSF's Pakistan partner Freedom Network called on heads of contesting parties to commit to defending the freedom of expression and protection of journalists in their party manifestos.
The joint letter stated, "Impunity for crimes against journalists and media is very high in Pakistan, which was among the five countries included in a pilot project of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity."According to the Freedom Network's Annual Impunity 2022 report, there were "no convictions in 96 per cent of journalist killings in the past 10 years," the letter added, reported The News International. "Such a high percentage of impunity for crimes against media practitioners and assistants is alarming and puts journalists in extreme danger for practising journalism, thus, denying citizens of Pakistan their right to know and access information - the two fundamental rights enshrined in the 1973Constitution of Pakistan, guaranteed by Articles 19 and 19A," the letter stated. "In the run-up to elections, the ball is now in the court of the political parties as regards defending press freedom, as well as journalistic independence and pluralism, as fundamental guarantees of a functioning democracy. Pakistan's press clubs along with journalists' unions, press freedomorganisations and editor bodies for electronic media, called on the leaders of the main political parties to make a concrete commitment to our proposals, starting with the search for legislative guarantees for the protection of journalists and the fight against impunity for crimes of violence against them," the letter added. According to the letter, the political parties were earlier firm supporters of freedom of expression and press freedom in Pakistan.
"Journalistic institutions such as press clubs and unions of journalists remained steadfast in upholding the constitutional rights to freedom of expression, of which journalism is an important tool used to exercise the right," the statement said.
They further urged the political parties to put an end to crimes against media in Pakistan and bring justice to it.
"We ask these federal and regional political parties to take our call into consideration and state unambiguously that they will support press freedom, the right to reliable information and the defence of journalists, that they will end impunity for crimes against media through Pakistan's legal framework and that they will bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists," they stressed in their letter. According to The News International, press clubs and other entities who joined the letter included the Karachi Press Club, Lahore Press Club, Quetta Press Club, National Press Club, Islamabad, Peshawar Press Club, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Karachi Union of Journalists, Punjab Union of Journalists, Balochistan Union of Journalists, Khyber Union of Journalists, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition (PJSC)-Federal chapter, Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND), Freedom Network, Reporters Without Borders and TV journalist Hamid Mir. (ANI)