Imran Khan claims Pakistan media forced into silence over last two years | World News - Hindustan Times
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Imran Khan claims Pakistan media forced into silence over last two years

PTI |
Jun 11, 2024 03:40 PM IST

Khan also claims dissenting journalists have been facing suppression. Remarks come after a new defamation act imposed press curbs in name of tackling fake news.

Jailed former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday claimed the media has been forced into silence by the state and journalists who dissent have faced suppression over the last two years in the country.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (File image)(Reuters)
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (File image)(Reuters)

Khan has been lodged at the high-security Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi since his arrest 10 months ago for his involvement in multiple cases, some of which have resulted in conviction.

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“In Pakistan, the media has always been vulnerable to control by the state while journalists have been targeted for their critical approaches. Over the last two years in Pakistan, the media has been forced into silence, and journalists who dissent face suppression,” Khan, 71, said on his X account.

The former prime minister’s post comes days after the Punjab government – headed by Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Khan’s arch-rival and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – recently introduced the ‘Punjab Defamation Act 2024,’ a controversial legislation about defamation which imposes massive curbs on press freedom in the name of fake news.

Independent media is one of the most important pillars of the state. It acts as a watchdog and compels the government to correct its course, the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said.

“My government tried to change this environment by bringing in the Protection of Journalists and Media Law but it has been sidelined since the engineered VoNC,” he said.

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VoNC he referred to was the vote of no-confidence in April 2022 that threw out his government over an alleged leak of a diplomatic cable.

On Tuesday, the PTI founder cited examples of some journalists who were either murdered or forced to leave the country for their criticism of the Pakistan Army for its role in politics.

“Arshad Sharif was driven into exile by grave threats and was murdered in cold blood in Kenya. Dr Moeed Pirzada, Sabir Shakir, and Wajahat Saeed Khan have been compelled to leave the country.

"Imran Riaz Khan was abducted and tortured for over six months, while journalists like Siddique Jan, Sami Ibrahim, Arif Hameed Bhatti and Adeel Habib have been under constant pressure,” he said, and questioned: “Who is orchestrating this systematic oppression in clear violation of our Constitution and our commitments under international conventions?”

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Khan further said that the crackdown and muzzling of the media through threats, harassment and oppressive ordinances is also a direct attack on democracy and freedom of expression.

Pakistan’s journalist bodies have challenged the Punjab Defamation Act 2024 in the Lahore High Court.

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