ISLAMABAD: Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in collaboration with Pakistan press clubs, various journalists’ associations, and the Freedom Network, urged Pakistani political parties to include commitments to safeguarding freedom of expression and protecting journalists in their manifestos for the upcoming general elections.

In a statement released by RSF on Thursday, it was noted that the condition of journalists in Pakistan had deteriorated in the run-up to the general election. In response, both domestic media leaders and international publications jointly launched a “crucial plea” to Pakistani political parties, urging them to pledge concrete actions in support of press freedom.

“Impunity for crimes against journalists and media is very high in Pakistan, which was among the five countries included in a pilot project of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity,” the statement said.

As per the Annual Impunity 2022 Report by Freedom Network, over the past decade, convictions were notably absent in 96 per cent of cases involving the killings of journalists.

“Such a high percentage of impunity for crimes against media practitioners and assistants is alarming and puts journalists in extreme danger for practising journalism, thus denying citizens of Pakistan their right to know and access information — the two fundamental rights enshrined in the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, guaranteed by Articles 19 and 19A,” RSF said.

“In the run-up to elections, the ball is now in the court of political parties as regards defending press freedom, as well as journalistic independence and pluralism, as fundamental guarantees of a functioning democracy.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023

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