Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has denounced former premier Imran Khan for lack of media freedom during his tenure which led to Pakistan falling 12 ranks on the World Press Freedom Index.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the prime minister said that Pakistan fell 12 positions and 18 points on the World Press Freedom Index during the last year of Imran Khan’s tenure.
He added that this not only earned Imran Khan the shameful title of ‘press freedom predator’ but also “placed our democracy in bad light”.
He concluded his tweet by saying, “We are fully committed to freedom of press and speech.”
The remarks come after the 20th World Press Freedom Index (2022) was published on Tuesday.
According to Reporters Sans Frontiers (Reporters Without Borders/RSF), the index assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories. Norway, Denmark and Sweden topped the index.
Pakistan ranks 157, one position below Afghanistan, and seven positions below India. Pakistan ranks above Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.
US State Secretary Blinken says freedom of speech restrictions impair Pakistan’s image, ability to progress
United States State Secretary Antony Blinken has said that the restrictions on freedom of speech, such as those in place against media organizations and civil society in Pakistan, impaired the country’s image and its ability to make progress.
While giving a press briefing on World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, the US state official stated that their government was aware about the restrictions on media organizations and the society in Pakistan.
The remarks came in response to a question by a Pakistani journalist during the presser. The journalist questioned the US state secretary about the dangers to journalists in Pakistan. The journalist stated that Pakistan was among those countries considered as the most dangerous place for journalists, citing murder, kidnapping, torture for exposing crime and corruption and criticism of the government’s policies as the reasons for these conditions.
The journalist asked State Secretary Blinken if the United States had brought up the matter during bilateral engagement with Pakistan.
Blinken replied in the affirmative, and said, “The short answer is yes,” and added that they [the State Department] took this up with their Pakistani counterparts.
He added that this was a feature of the annual Human Rights Reports that they released, and that they were aware of the restrictions in place in Pakistan.