ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday “vehemently rebutted” a report of the Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), terming it “an attempt to malign the elected representative of the people of Pakistan without any corroborative evidence.”

A statement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting says it is surprising that the RSF has jumped to the conclusion that “the media in Pakistan is under increasingly draconian censorship measures”.

In fact, it says, the present government has been taking all possible measures to create a congenial environment for journalists to perform their professional obligations.

The RSF on its official website has published “a gallery of grim portraits, those of 37 heads of state or government who launched a crackdown massively on press freedom” under the caption “RSF’s 2021: Press freedom predators’ gallery.”

The report has mentioned 37 leaders from around the world, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The information ministry statement says Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape and the liberal media policy of the government has resulted in exponential media growth.

Contrary to the RSF’s report, the government does not believe in issuing press advices and encourages self-regulation by the media.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government believes in the freedom of expression and media independence which is evident from the unanimous approval of the Journalist Protection Bill by the cabinet which would go a long way in ensuring the safety and security of the journalists.”

It says the reference to the “deep state” is misplaced, adding “all the institutions of Pakistan are working in cohesion and at the same time guarding their own independence and autonomy.

“The fact of the matter is that the government uses fake news busters to tackle misinformation/disinformation in order to quash fake news,” it says.

“It is hoped that in future RSF will avoid such irresponsible journalism,” the statement concludes.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2021

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