Is Pakistani media entitled to be called a free media?
Media, print or electronic, has played a very crucial role in determining the rights of people and unfurling the issues to the common man. Freedom of information is of prime concern to the UN charter, for it is the only way through which the rights are ensured by not keeping the people away from their rightful information.
Media in Pakistan is in a very vibrant landscape, which has a mixed history of freedom and sanctions. The roots of Pakistani media are present in the pre partitioned British India, where the daily DAWN was founded by Quaid e Azam in 1941, and an other daily Nawa e Waqt was founded in 1940. The basis of foundation of these newspaper was to further the cause of Muslims in a relatively hostile Hindu environment. This made the basis for Pakistani media’s attitude. Pakistani media is bold and is known to endure the oppressions in different times by different governments.
The key players in restricting media freedom have remained the civil and army governments. The story of media restrictions starts with the Ayub Khan’s Press and Publication Ordinance (PPO) 1962. The news agencies and print media in general were made vulnerable by this ordinance which legalized the confiscation of news papers, shutting down of news agencies and other measures against the media if the authorities felt the news reports to be anti-establishment or so. Ayub Khan’s ordinance made it extremely difficult to express freely and the people were deprived of their basic right to have information. The restrictions were further strengthened by having direct influence inside the news papers by hook or crook. The press freedom was further deteriorated by Zia ul Haq, who imposed more restrictions on the media independence. Popular “islamization” policy of Zia also had its severe impact on the media independence. The PPO was further made strict. By that time the state owned Pakistan Television (PTV) was also playing a major...
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