Waqar Gillani, a senior journalist and special correspondent for the News on Sunday (Pakistan) spoke about the Rise of Violence Against Journalists and Right to Access Information for Strong Institutions. Gillani presented on the Rise of Violence against Journalists and Right to Access to Information for Strong Institutions in a country like Pakistan. The subject area touched on freedom of expression which is facing multiple challenges.
He said that Pakistan was trying to effectively pursue the targets and the sustainable development goals derived by the United Nations, especially SDD 16, targets and indicators. Pakistan, along with the civil society, helps build some institutions and make them last. And particularly in their sections for SDG 16.10, which is actually “access to information and press freedom” and respect to my subject. There are efforts to make more better laws for access to information and also some guidelines and policies for the safety and protection of journalists. But Target 16.10 of the SDGs specifically aims to promote access to information and freedom, by making laws and policies and strengthening institutions. Target 16.10 calls all to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Despite the efforts by many, Pakistan has not been able to reduce crime and violence against journalists as SDG 16.10 indicates. An effective legislator and the proper implementation of laws related to access to information is still required. There is need to create this supporting environment that helps the growth of independent media rather often one sided, a polarized approach. We cannot bring behavioral changes either in the state institutions or in the civil society without having a consensual and balanced approach towards SDGs, making institutions better policies and laws. There is need for the proper regulatory framework that helps in freedom of expression. Read more…
Efforts are under way with the help of civil society groups to make laws to ensure access to information. And to curb violence against journalists, however, the process is slow and there is a clear difference in theory and practice. The global media rights organizations have observed the press freedom and freedom of expression situation, not at a satisfactory level in Pakistan. The Reporters Without Borders and International Media Rights body in its 2020 Annual Report declared Pakistan key points down from 2019 on the World Press Freedom Index. The index is published looking at various factors to sign an overall score. Relating to the freedom of the press each year, it’s in Pakistan won 45 out of 180 countries, which was actually three degrees down as compared to 2019. In the last year, according to different press, media and other freedom organizations and civil society reports, there have been more than are nearly 100 different types of attacks on media groups or media persons in different parts of the country.
These attacks involve physical harm, mental torture, verbal attacks and harassment through different means, especially exercising power and authority allegedly by the state- or state-owned institutions. There is strong impression that the present democratic regime is backed by the military establishment, is systematically curbing the freedom and independence, particularly those critical performance. Very strong impression that military by and large, controls most of the media houses, especially electronic or TV channels. It uses media for the news and propaganda of its choice in the name of national interest of the country.
In this backdrop of SDG Target 16.10 for access to information and violence against journalists, there is need to do a lot for Pakistan. State and political regimes need to adopt a balanced approach and should absorb criticism, rather often violently, call off freedom of expression and media. There is need to implement these policies in a proper way. And they should not pay a price involved in that media.
There is a need for a collective and balanced approach to tolerate each other and for enjoyable freedom, and media and expression is enabled. Pakistan still needs to do a lot for this unless we move gradually and continually move forward towards freedoms of media and expression will remain a challenge.