Reporters Without Borders report is charge sheet against Pakistan government: PML-N

Amid constant suppression of freedom of expression in Pakistan, the country's main opposition party has claimed that the latest report by international non-profit Reporters Without Borders is a charge sheet against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

Dawn reported quoting the statement of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb that Imran Khan's alleged "authoritarian attitude" and character was defiling Pakistan's image abroad.

Aurangzeb said the global community had unequivocally condemned the government's suppression of the freedom of expression.

"The report says that the PTI government is worse than military dictatorships in Pakistan when it comes to press freedom. The Human Rights Watch, Pakistan Press Freedom Report and Freedom Network Report had already declared the Imran government as the worst media gagging administration in the history of the country," she said.

The PML-N official further said the latest report of the Reporters Without Borders had exposed the "predatory behaviour" of the government. She said the actions by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had not only reflected negatively on Pakistan's journalism but also adversely affected the country's position when it came to Financial Action Task Force and the GSP Plus status by the European Union.

She said the report pointed out that newspaper distribution and news channel broadcasting were hampered by the federal government.

"It mentions that journalists are harassed, abducted and assaulted for crossing the red lines defined by the state. The report also pointed out that freedom of expression on social media is also being curbed through new dark and draconian laws," she said while quoting from the report.

Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontiers (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 - old tyrants, two women and a European." "There are now 37 leaders from around the world in RSF's predators of press freedom gallery and no one could say this list is exhaustive," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said, reported Dawn.

Freedom of the press has long been a problem in Pakistan but the situation has deteriorated markedly under Imran Khan, who has dismissed allegations of attacks on the Pakistani press as a "joke".

Earlier, three international rights groups on Thursday voiced grave concern at the recent attacks on journalists in Pakistan and mounting pressure on scribes critical of the Imran Khan-led government.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has ranked Pakistan the fifth most dangerous place for the practice of journalism, with 138 media persons there having lost their lives in the line of duty between 1990 and 2020.

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