Imran Khan & the media

Published April 29, 2022

EVER since he has begun pounding the pavement again, the ousted premier has taken to bemoaning what he describes as a “media blackout” against him. He repeated this at the PTI workers’ convention in Lahore on Wednesday, and tauntingly asked freedom of expression advocates why they had gone silent.

Only four channels, as far as Imran Khan is concerned, are giving him due coverage. Recently, in keeping with his current line of attack, he also accused the media of receiving foreign funding and conspiring to topple his government while “standing with the dacoits”.

Read: Proof against journalists demanded from Imran

It’s all smoke and mirrors where Mr Khan and the press are concerned. On the one hand, while he was the prime minister he said the media in Pakistan has more freedom than that in Britain. He has also, very rightly, described it as an important pillar of democracy whose duty is to raise awareness. At the same time, social media accounts linked to the ruling party instigated vicious trolling of independent-minded journalists; PTI ministers would single out reporters in press conferences to discredit and ridicule — all without a word of censure from Mr Khan.

Explainer: What is the govt's proposed media authority and why has it invited criticism?

The government contemplated bringing in a regulatory law so draconian that a military dictator would have flaunted it with pride. The proposed legislation was put on the back-burner only when the media and civil society erupted in anger, but the government nevertheless moved ahead on another front — to control cyberspace.

A presidential ordinance was issued to amend the already controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which among other changes made defamation a non-bailable and non-cognisable offence.

Contrary to his sweeping statements about valuing the media’s role in ‘raising awareness’, Mr Khan it seems can only tolerate a pliant, unquestioning press that acts in service of his agenda. This gaslighting must end. If the former PM has evidence to prove that journalists’ loyalties have been bought by foreign powers, he should come out with it. Disinformation is condemnable, from wherever it emanates.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

New funds
27 Feb, 2024

New funds

PAKISTAN plans to seek a new loan of $6bn from the IMF under its Extended Fund Facility for a period of three years,...
Missing link
27 Feb, 2024

Missing link

WITH most of Punjab and KP now accessible via motorways, which have greatly eased road travel for the bulk of the...
Tragedy averted
Updated 27 Feb, 2024

Tragedy averted

Pakistan must shed the layers of intolerance that have been allowed to permeate society.
Spirit of ’74
26 Feb, 2024

Spirit of ’74

FOR three days in 1974, starting Feb 22, Lahore witnessed an epochal meeting of 38 Muslim nations as it hosted the...
Silence strategy
Updated 26 Feb, 2024

Silence strategy

Attempts at internet censorship only serve to tarnish Pakistan’s image globally and betray the democratic principles the country purports to uphold.
Nepra’s reluctance
26 Feb, 2024

Nepra’s reluctance

WHAT is the point in having a regulator that does not punish the entities it oversees for misconduct and...