Released on World Press Freedom Day 2016-2017

Freedom of Speech in Pakistan

First Annual Report 2017

 Released   by                         FreedomTalk.Net         Pdf Version

                                                                  

We document occurrences where journalists, media, activists, and minorities are targeted because of free speech, free expression, faith or activism.

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Fierce attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press Freedom, arrests, enforced disappearances, censorships and attacks on minorities continue unabated. In January, the provincial Sindh government’s Counter-Terrorism Depart­ment (CTD) established a social and digital media monitoring cell. In February, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, announced yet another cunning plan to silence the critics using the pretext of hate speech; many people were arrested and allegedly booked for defaming the government and the apex bodies of the country.

Many of the supporters including Gulalai Ismail and Dr. Ammar Ali Jan of the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), were arrested and later released on bail, while many of the PTM activists still in custody. The government banned two PTM’s Members of the National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir from entering the Balochistan province to attend the funeral of a murdered comrade, Arman Loni. PTM, a party claim the representation of the Pashtuns of remote tribal area of North Waziristan, who were caught between the fight of the security forces and the Taliban. In February, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) briefly detained Din News TV host Rizwanur Rehman Razi 'Dada,' and booked him what agency believed, "defamatory and obnoxious" content against the judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies on his Twitter account. Scroll down for the timeline of ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS  


​ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

FreedomTalk  

Monitors Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan

 

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In January, a “sensitive agency” official confessed the custody of a “missing man,” Abdullah Saleh, in Lahore High Court (LHC) hearing contrary to the law that the family of the arrested person(s) must be informed within 24 hours of the arrest. Mr. Abdullah had been arrested two years ago. The numbers of enforced disappearances vary while they become the norm of the society and a tool of the security forces to arbitrary kidnap the dissents. People are reluctant to file police reports for the short-term disappearances fearing extrajudicial killing of the missing persons.In April 2019, families of the minority Shia missing persons started protesting in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi after missing and arrest of many youths including Daily Jang reporter Matloob Hussain Mosavi and Aab Takk News TV cameraman Syed Ali Mubashir Naqvi, in Karachi. During the first week of May 2019, police attacked the peaceful protesters and arrested at least twenty-five activists and booked them for waging war against Pakistan, along with other charges.

After two weeks of the sit-in, the head of the Missing Persons’ Relatives Committee (MPRC), Rashid Rizvi, announced the end of the protest and informed the media that four missing persons returned homes after three and four years and 27 detainees were released. croll down for the timeline of ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY

In January, the Vatican News reported that Pakistan barred 14 Catholics youths from attending the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama. All the youths had valid visas and travel documents.As many as twenty-five minority, Hindu girls had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam during April and May 2019. Many of the reported girls were under-aged and forcibly married to the kidnappers in remote parts of the Sindh province. In April 2019, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), colluded with the religious parties and opposed the Child Marriage Bill in the Parliament. The bill could help prevent Child Marriages – a tool for kidnappers to legalize kidnapping and enforced disappearances. ​Scroll down for the timeline of MINORITIES


CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES

The Federal and the provincial governments continued imposing arbitrary censorships, bans, and fines on anything critical to the government and security forces pretexting national security or irreligious. The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) remains at the epicenter of trouble as their activists barred from entering the press clubs, travel across the country and hold the protests. In January, Pakistan Ele­ctronic Media Regu­la­tory Authority (Pemra) warned television channels to censor what Pemra arbitrarily believes as “Indecent scenes, dialogues, extramarital relations, infidelity, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, bed scenes, glamour, use of drugs and alcohol, and intimate moments between couples,” in non-news content. Zama Jawandoon, an organization working for women's rights, canceled the first women's bicycle rally after religious parties warnings and protests in Peshawar. The provincial government of Punjab banned Manto Festival by the Alhamra Arts Council alleging obscenity. Saadat Hasan Manto was a born in India and moved to Pakistan at the time of partition. He was a writer, playwright, and author. His liberal writings have always been subject to surveillance and censorship in India and Pakistan; the Punjab province also ended free WIfI facilities at the public spaces. Scroll down for the timeline of CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES

POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Political party’s assaults on freedom of speech and freedom of expression continue unabated to win over religious voters, military and silence the critics. In January, failed to control increasing extrajudicial killings, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry asked media to cut time on crime reporting. The provincial Punjab Minister for Culture and Information Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, demeaned media and call it shameless and should not be off limits. The Minister was enraged over a journalist’s question about his party’s election promise of Medina State (a society based on Islamic laws). In January, the journalists boycotted the press conference of the Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, after he bullied a senior journalist for asking a question about the controversial contract of the Mohmand dam, “Because you are my elder I am answering the question.” If this were someone else, I would not have answered and also set aside his mic.” He later issued an apology. All the ministers belong to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) targeted political opponent and The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) targeted political opponent and placed Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) members Miftah Ismail, former Finance Minister, and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Prime Minister of Pakistan on the no-fly list. Likewise, incumbents used the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to target and silence government opposing. Many leaders of The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), barred from flying abroad and going to the different parts of the country and arrested. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) use photo-shop, fake news, social media accounts and generate hashtags to abuse and humiliate nonpartisan journalists Saleem Safi, Marvi Sirmed, Arshad Waheed Chaudhry, Hamid Mir, Mubashir Zaidi, Fakhar Durrani, Umar Cheema, and Azaz Syed to silence criticism and cover-up the failures of PTI. ​Scroll down for the timeline of POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

MEDIA SITUATION IN PAKISTAN

In February, journalist protested during a press conference of Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting. The journalists alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is involved in financial murder of working journalists and putting an end to press freedom, and consequently press clubs in all the major cities of Pakistan have banned him over massive job cuts & non-payment of wages to media workers. Scroll down for the timeline of MEDIA SITUATION IN PAKISTAN

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES

The vice-chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, bans forthcoming Valentine Day at the campus and renamed it as “sisters day.” He allowed female students to accept gifts of hijabs and veils. In March, the Institute of Business and Management (IBM) of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) enforced an Islamic dress code for male and female students and a penalty of Rs. 5000 for violation. Scroll down for the timeline of FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES 


Connection lost; in February, after the unfortunate Indian violations of Pakistan’s air space and losing two fighter jets to Pakistan, both the countries entirely ceased cultural ties, screening of films and actors and singers performance across the border


Killings

May 2019, after a violent incident, thirteen civilians and three soldiers lost their lives in Kharqamar, North Waziristan. The ensuing events led to the arrests of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) lawmakers Ali Wazir, Mohsin Dawar, and as many as twenty-two activists. 


ASSAULTS | ARRESTS | HARASSMENTS


  • July 2019, a malicious social media campaign started by @IKWariors (Prime Minister Imran Khan) supporters asking the arrests of the journalists critical to the policies of the Prime Minister Imran Khan. Their hashtag ArrestAntiPakjournalists became the second most trended within hours. 


  • June 2019, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and the president of the Youth Wing Punjab, Waleed Butt, and alleging derogatory social media posts against the judiciary, army officers and the Prime Minister Imran Khan.


  • June 2019, Federal Urdu University (Karachi Campus) fired 150 staffers over protesting for medical care, vacation pay and other rights.


  • May 2019, Islamabad police alleged Gulalai Ismail — a leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), of hate speech, inciting ethnic sentiments against the state and Pakistan Army in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl (http://www.freedomtalk.net/ do not mention the names of minor rape victims), and booked her for sedition and under Anti-terrorism Act combined with other sections.


  • May 2019, police arrested a Khyber News TV reporter, Gohar Wazir, for covering the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) meeting. He was released after spending three days in detention.


  • May 2019, police arrested a retired military man over alleged blasphemous contents in Golra, Punjab. The complainant, Yasir Qasmi, filed a case against the former Army officer accusing him of using derogatory remarks responding to his posts about Muslim prophets.


  • May 2019, Sanna Ejaz, a female activist of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), filed a police report after subjected to cyberbullying and what she describes as the final life-threatening call.


  • May 2019, police booked beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Parliamentarian, Ali Wazir and eleven other activists on allegations of raising anti-State slogans.  


  • May 2019, police booked at least forty Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) activists for protesting rising food and living costs in different cities of the Punjab province.


  • April 2019, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officers assaulted court reporter of News One TV channel, Shaukat Korai in Sindh High Court (SHC). Mr. Korai was reporting on the court proceedings with the court’s authorization.


  • April 2019, Pakistan Federal Police book Dunya TV journalist Shahzeb Jillani alleging anti-state comments. All charges were dropped in May 2019.


  • March 2019, female TV journalist Gharida Farooqi was fiercely targeted and subjected to on online harassment after she was misinterpreted about the New Zealand shooter.


  • Pakistani Federal Police (FIA) start investigating leading journalists Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood, and Umer Cheema for showing solidarity with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan in February.


  • March 2019, armed and masked kidnappers riding police vehicles kidnapped Daily Jang Reporter Matloob Hussain in Karachi.


  • March 2019, Pakistan bans Human Rights activist Jalila Haider from flying abroad. Jalila Haider is known for her work to improve the living standards of women and children of remote communities and a sympathizer of the beleaguered The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). 


  • March 2019, local administration of remote North Waziristan demolished the house of the journalist Hafeezullah Wazir.


  • February 2019, Vehari (Province of Punjab) police registered a case against Mr. Azhar Hussain for satirical social media posts involving the Army Chief, Prime Minister and former Chief Justice of Pakistan. 


  • February 2019, Multan police arrested four men and booked 40-45 unidentified people on allegations of defaming the government and hate speech.


  • February 2019, using the pretext of hate speech, Pakistan intensified assaults on freedom of speech and social media activists.


  • February 2019, Multan police arrested two brothers, Rawal Asad and Anas, for participating in a protest organized by the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). The brothers, both the students, charged for treason.


  • February 2019, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Din News TV host Rizwanur Rehman Razi 'Dada,' and booked him what agency believed, "defamatory and obnoxious" content against the judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies on his Twitter account. Mr. Razi was released on bail after spending a few hours in custody.


  • February 2019, Lahore police arrested academic and the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist Dr. Ammar Ali Jan for participating in a protest organized by the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Jan was released on bail after spending a day in custody.


  • February 2019, the Islamabad police arrested female Pashtun Rights and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activist, Gulalai Ismail under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). She was released after 30-hours of detention.  


  • February 2019, Pakistan banned two Members of the National Assembly (MNA) Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir from entering the Balochistan province to attend the funeral of murdered Arman Loni, who was reportedly killed by the security forces.  Both Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir are elected members of the Federal Parliament from North Waziristan and belong to the beleaguered Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).


  • January 2019, the provincial police of Sindh registered terrorism cases against the activists of Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) for protesting in Karachi. 


  • January 2019, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), reported arrests of its activists in Mardan.



ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES


  • June 2019, families of two students, Nasim Baloch, and Aftab Baloch, belonging to the beleaguered province of Balochistan, alleged that security forces kidnapped them from Karachi.


  • June 2019, Ali Haider Baloch, who campaigned and protested tirelessly for his missing father ten years ago and other enforced disappearances of his Baloch community, kidnapped in Gawadar, a city of the resistive province of Balochistan. He was tortured and released after five days


  • June 2019, the Voice of Shia Missing Persons reports the abduction of minority Shia activist Mesam Mehdi, from Karachi.


  • June 2019, the Voice of Shia Missing Persons reports the abduction of minority Shia activist Hakeem Abidi, from Lahore. 


  • April 2019, police in Rawalpindi kidnapped a local driver Waqas Ahmed, and the court shamefully granted his physical remand into custody for over two weeks. The police admitted his arrests when his mother Bilquis Akhtar, lodged a complaint on the Prime Minister’s Citizen’s portal. 


  • April 2019, undefined armed and masked men kidnapped Dr. Inam Ullah, a human rights activist and social worker in Attock.


  • April 2019, Rizwan Mehsood reported his father, Aqal Khan missing in Islamabad since February 14. Mr. Aqal had arrived at Islamabad International Airport from Gulf Air Flight GF770 to Pakistan but never reached home.


  • April 2019, undefined armed and masked men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Aab Takk News TV cameraman Syed Ali Mubashir Naqvi. Mr. Naqvi belongs to the minority Shia community. 


  • March 2019, undefined armed and masked men riding unmarked vehicles kidnapped Daily Jang reporter Matloob Hussain Mosavi. Mr. Mosavi belongs to the minority Shia community.


  • March 2019, security forces abducted Bilal Bhatti in the province of Punjab. The police informed family over the phone about his abduction after two weeks.


  • January 2019, a veteran leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-L), Momin Khan Momin kidnapped from Karachi. The party alleged security forces for the abduction. 


  • January 2019, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) alleged that security forces kidnapped its Karachi leader, Sher Mehsud on his way to join a protest in Karachi.


  • January 2019, a “sensitive agency” official confessed the custody of a “missing man,” Abdullah Saleh, in Lahore High Court (LHC) hearing contrary to the law that the family of the arrested person(s) must be informed within 24 hours of the arrest. Mr. Abdullah was arrested two years ago.


  • January 2019, unidentified persons kidnapped Allah Noor Khan, an activist of beleaguering Pakhtun Tahhafuz Movement (PTM). Mr. Allah Noor Khan belongs to South Waziristan.  


DEVELOPMENT


  • July 2019, Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua, informed that subsequent to her meeting with Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan Army public relations wing known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), two missing brothers of Bahawalpur, Majid and Sajid and eleven missing persons from Balochistan, returned homes after years of disappearance.


  • July 2019, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, announced that the commission knows the whereabouts of 3,938 out of 6,156 missing persons.


  • July 2019, Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of Pakistan Army public relations wing known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), informed Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua, that a special assistance cell has been operational at the General Head Quarters (GHQ) to look into the matters of Enforced Disappearances. 


  • January 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) criminalizing Enforced Disappearances.


  • January 2019, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) temporarily ended their decade (3,464 days) long protest outside the Quetta Press Club.   


  • January 2019, Baloch Students Organization (BSO) reported the return of its abducted members; Aurangzeb and Zareef were reported missing in November 2018, however, the Senior Joint Secretary of BSO, Jiaand Baloch is still missing. The BSO claims that many of its members are missing on the allegations of anti-state activities.


MINORITIES | BLASPHEMY


  • July 2019, a minor Hindu girl, Pooja Kumari Sutarh, kidnapped from village Bakhsho Laghari District Hyderabad, the province of Sindh. A police report has been filed against the alleged kidnappers.


  • June 2019, Jadanwala Police booked Mr. Rana Javed over blasphemy allegations, in the province of Punjab. Mr. Rana has threatened to commit suicide via a video message if arrested.


  • June 2019, a session court sentenced a man "Saleem" to death alleging muttering blasphemy three years ago, in Lahore.


  • May 2019, vandals destroyed parts of a centuries-old building belonging to the minority Sikh community in Norwal, Punjab. The department of heritage (AUQAF) collaborated with vandals and sold the furniture fixtures of the building. 


  • May 2019, Islamists attacked and destroyed minority Hindus properties and the police booked Hindu veterinary, Ramesh Kumar, alleging blasphemy in Phulhadiyon, Sindh.


  • May 2019, the police jailed a minority Ahmadiyya (Ahmadi) Muslim man Zafar Abbas for three years for writing an Islamic blessing “MashAllah” outside his home in Khushab.


  • May 2019, a 13-year-old minority Hindu girl, Pathaani Bheel daughter of Pehlaaj Bheel, kidnapped in the remote region of Sarhari, in the Sindh province. The minority Hindu girls are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam and then forced into marriage with the kidnappers.


  • May 2019, police attacked the peaceful family members of the minority Shia Community protesting for the recovery of their arbitrary kidnapped loved ones in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, DR. Arif Alvi, in Karachi. At least twenty-five activists have been arrested and charged under sections 121/121A (war against State), or a declaration of the “Enemy of State.”       


  • April 2019, a 12-year-old minority Hindu girl, Krishna Hari Chand, daughter of Bapu Hari Chand and Aaso Kohli, kidnapped in Gharo-Thatta, a region of the Sindh province. The kidnappers threatened to kill the family if they file a police report. 


  • April 2019, two more minority Hindu girls, Anita Kohli and Aaso Kohli, kidnapped in the remote region of the Sindh province. The victim’s families know the kidnappers but the police failed to arrest the alleged kidnappers. The minority Hindu girls are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam and then forced into marriage with the kidnappers.


  • April 2019, unidentified men kidnapped a minority Hindu girl Priya Kumari, in a remote village named Chundiko, Sindh.  Later, she was forcibly converted to Islam and given as a wife to a Muslim man.


  • April 2019, unidentified attackers attacked minority Shia mosque and desecrated the holy emblems in Steel Town, Sindh.   


  • April 2019, as many as twenty minority Hindu girls have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam during the past few weeks. Many of the reported girls are under-aged and forcibly married to the kidnappers in remote parts of the Sindh province.  


  •  April 2019, unknown terrorists detonated a bomb in Quetta killing 20 people, nine of them belong to the Hazara-Shia minority in Quetta. At least 600 people of the Hazara-Shia community have been killed in Quetta during the last five years. Later, ISIS accepted the responsibility and announced their coalition with Anjuman Sipah Sahaba now ASWJ. Pakistan had released a terrorist, Ramzan Mangal, just two days prior to this massacre. Ramzan Mangle is a notoriously known target killer and mastermind behind hundreds of killings belonging to the Hazara-Shia community.


  • March 2019, father of two minority teenaged Hindu girls Raveena and Reena protested and claimed that her daughters have been abducted, converted to Islam and married. The provincial government of the Sindh province failed to act, but four people later arrested after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s intervention.


  • March 2019, police attacked, injured and arrested four members of the unprovoked transgender community for celebrating a birthday at Hawksbay beach in Karachi.   


  • February 2019, Karachi police disrupted a peaceful rally protesting for the missing persons of the minority Shia community and briefly detained Rashid Rizvi, who led the rally.


  • February 2019, a charged mob attacked a Hindu temple and desecrated holy statues and scriptures in Kunbh, Sindh.


  • January 2019, Pakistan barred 14 Catholics youths from attending the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama, at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. All the youths had valid visas and travel documents.


DEVELOPMENT


  • April 2019, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered 14-year-old Hindu girl Reesha, in the custody of her parents and declared her conversion as a “forced conversion.”


  • March 2019, Pakistan removed provincial Punjab Information and Culture Minister, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, for his derogatory remarks targeting minority Hindu Community.


CENSORSHIPS | BANS | FINES


  • July 2019, Pakistan blocks TV channels from covering convicted and under-trial political leaders.


  • July 2019, private TV channel Hum News host Nadeem Malik interview with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, abruptly taken off air within seconds of its broadcast. TV channel explained the censorship in a tweet, “#HumNews firmly believes in a free & responsible media. Protecting #FreedomOfExpression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect & dignity of the judiciary in line with our ethical values & the constitution. #PressFreedom.”


  • July 2019, Afzal Butt, cybercrime director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), informed the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication that FIA staffers are also involved in stealing the travel data used by passengers to register new mobile phones.


  • July 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) take three private channels AbbTakk TV, 24 News and Capital TV off the air for live coverage of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz. She presented video clips of one of the judges, confessing to sentence her father on corruption charges, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, under pressure.


  • July 2019, a large number of private TV channels censored the parts of the Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s press conference showing the judge, Arshad Malik confession of wrongly convicting her father, Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, who was removed over allegations of corruption in the aftermath of Panama Papers. His sentencing is largely seen as political victimization in Pakistan.


  • July 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) sent notices to 21 TV channels for airing unedited press conference of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz. She presented video clips of one of the judges, confessing to sentence her father on corruption charges, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, under pressure.


  • July 2019, undisclosed sources coerced journalists Umar Cheema, Azaz Syed, and Wjih Sani to deactivate their Twitter accounts. All three journalists work for the Jang Group and critical to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). However, journalist Wjih Sani’s account has been restored within a few hours.


  • July 2019, prominent journalist Hamid Mir’s interview with the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari was abruptly taken off air on Geo News, one of Pakistan’s leading news stations. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is in the custody of the Anti-graft court on corruption charges.


  • July 2019, the province of the Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz Khan baffled and enraged journalists and free speech advocates by announcing restrictive media policies not akin to his authority. Amid several other restrictions, he bars media crew entry from the police station. Media need permission ahead of entering the police stations for work-related matters.


  • June 2019, the Deputy Speaker of National Assembly, Qasim Khan Suri, bans the word “Selected Prime Minister,” from the assembly. The notion is well-established in Pakistan and overseas that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been planted in the parliament. The Deputy Speaker and the Prime Minister belong to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  • June 2019, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) fined Rs1 million (estimated $70000) private channel News One for airing Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal with a woman. The woman had  alleged that she was subjected to the harassment while meeting the NAB chief. 


  • June 2019, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) reiterates to monitor online contents, record voice and call data under proposed Web Monitoring System (WMS) to arbitrary block what it believes, “grey” contents.


  • June 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned TV channels from airing TV-shows supportive to the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s Justice, Qazi Faez Isa. Alternatively, adverse coverage against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was aired to support and disseminate the government point of view against Justice Isa.


  • May 2019, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered internet service providers (ISP) to block access to hundreds of the websites including alibaba.com, bloomberg.com, buzzfeed.com, and gsmarena.com alleging “unethical” contents. Later, the mentioned sites were unblocked while hundreds of the sites remained inaccessible.


  • May 2019, Pakistan’s northernmost territory of Gilgit-Baltistan banned the distribution of the caps signifying Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement (PTM).


  • May 2019, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) bans the government advertisements to the DAWN group, owned newspapers and channels to punish Pakistan’s oldest media group for its defiance against censorships and refusal to drop criticism on government.


  • May 2019, under draconian censorship, SAMAA TV censored Human Rights activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir’s mention of Shia Missing Persons in a talk-show. Minority Shia community is protesting against the arbitrary kidnappings in front of the residence of the President of Pakistan, DR. Arif Alvi in Karachi. 


  •  April 2019, mainstream media blacked out the massive rally of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) attended by hundreds and thousands of people in Miran Shah.


  • April 2019, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) barred former Finance Minister, businessman and political rival, Miftah Ismail from going abroad and placed his name on a no-fly list (ECL). Mr. Ismail was scheduled to deliver lectures on Pakistan economy at Chatham House, Oxford and University College, London.


  • April 2019, Pakistani military ordered TV channels to air the only military approved defense analysts.


  • April 2019, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), ordered private cable operators to stop airing Channel 24, City 42, City 41 Faisalabad and Rohi City News after a renowned journalist Najam Sethi, discussed the relationship of the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi.


  • March 2019, Faisalabad Arts Council banned singer and head of emerging Barabari Party Jawad Ahmad for criticizing Prime Minister, Imran Khan.


  • March 2019, Khyber district (Peshawar) banned transgender community from dancing at the wedding parties. Dancing is one of the primary sources of earnings for this community in Pakistan.


  • March 2019, private TV Channel 24 disrupted and partly shut down in many parts of the country after Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry criticized the channel for airing a show critical to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.  


  • March 2019, the provincial government of Sindh bars leading journalists of local and international media houses such as BBC and AFP, a member of the jury and one of the nominees from attending a sports awards ceremony at the Governor House. 


  • March 2019, Pakistan largest ride-sharing Careem faced intense backlash after a humorous billboard about weddings.


  • March 2019, Pakistan again put Pashtun Tahafuz Movement’s (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen on the international no-fly list.


  • January 2019, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial government of the Punjab province ended free WIfI facilities at the public spaces.


  • January 2019, Peshawar Press Club banned the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) from holding a press conference. PTM said that the presser was planned to discuss the problems of the Pashtuns.


  • January 2019, Pakistan media censored the protests of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), organized in all the major cities in the country. 


  • January 2019, the provincial Sindh government’s Counter-Terrorism Depart­ment (CTD) established a social and digital media monitoring cell on the pretext of hate speech and anti-state activities.


  • January 2019, Zama Jawandoon, an organization working for women's rights, canceled the first women's bicycle rally after religious parties warnings and protests in Peshawar.


  • January 2019, Pakistan Ele­ctronic Media Regu­la­tory Authority (Pemra) warned television channels to censor what Pemra arbitrarily believes as “Indecent scenes, dialogues, extramarital relations, infidelity, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, bed scenes, glamour, use of drugs and alcohol, and intimate moments between couples,” in non-news content.


  • January 2019, the Chief Justice, Mian Saqib Nisar sustained censorship on airing neighboring Indian TV shows and contents in Pakistan. The Chief Justice alleged that Indian contents damage Pakistani culture.


  • ​January 2019, the provincial government of Punjab banned  Manto Festival by the Alhamra Arts Council alleging obscenity. Saadat Hasan Manto, was a born in India and moved to Pakistan at the time of partition. He was a writer, playwright, and author. His liberal writings have always been subject to surveillance and censorship in India and Pakistan.


  • January 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), imposed a 30-day ban on airing of Neo TV show Harf-i-Raaz, after the host Orya Maqbool Jan’s telephonic conversation with Afghan Taliban on Pakistan’s national and foreign policy.


  • January 2019, micro-blogging site Twitter informs veteran journalist Mubashir Zaidi that his tweets about the murders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Superintend of police (SP) Tahir Dawar and Muttahida Qumi Movement (MQM) leader Ali Raza Abidi violate Pakistani law. Twitter protected the source of the complainant.


POLITICAL PARTIES ATTACKS AGAINST FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION


  • July 2019, using verified Twitter account, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dubbed freedom of speech and press freedom as treason.


  •  June 2019, one of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, Masroor Ali Sial, physically assaulted senior journalist and the President of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) Imtiaz Khan Faran, while recording a TV show. Click here for the video.


  • June 2019, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, attacked and physically assaulted critical anchorperson Sami Ibrahim, in public. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  • May 2019. The provincial Punjab government appoints Moavia Azam, as a committee member to monitor sectarianism and criticism in Islamic books and on social media. Moavia Azam, belongs to proscribed Sipahe Sahab (SSP), and ASWJ, proscribed Islamist groups known for many high profile killings and mass murders. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had him elected as the Member of Parliament to win Islamists voters.  


  • April 2019, conspirators use photo-shop, fake news, social media accounts and generate hashtags to abuse and humiliate nonpartisan journalists Saleem Safi, Marvi Sirmed, Arshad Waheed Chaudhry, Hamid Mir, Mubashir Zaidi, Fakhar Durrani, Umar Cheema, and Azaz Syed. All the journalists are critical to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  • April 2019, Finance Minister Asad Umar, has stopped giving interviews to mainstream channels over the dismal situation of the economy. He conducted a Q &A session with digital media representatives in his office, mainly with PTI-aligned platforms. Questions were scripted and agreed in advance. The Minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  • March 2019, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers assaulted and injured Shiraz Gardezi, cameraman of Geo News television channel outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad. Mr. Gardezi, is also a joint secretary of the National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad. The journalist was covering the corruption trial of PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari who is also the co-chairperson of the party.


  • March 2019, Twitter suspended the account of Shahbaz Gill, the spokesman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led provincial government of Punjab for spreading fake news and targeting the political opponent Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Mr. Gill had photo-shopped a letter to malign the opposition for asking US help.


  • March 2019, provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) passed a bill condemning Auratmarch and call it SHAMEFUL.


  • January 2019, failed to control increasing extrajudicial killings, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry asked media to cut time on crime reporting. The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).



  • January 2019, the provincial Punjab Minister for Culture and Information Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, demeaned media and call it shameless and should not be off limits. The Minister was enraged over a journalist’s question about his party’s election promise of Medina State (a society based on Islamic laws). The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).


  • January 2019, the journalists boycott the press conference of the Federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, after he bullied a senior journalist for asking a question about the controversial contract of the Mohmand dam, “Because you are my elder I am answering the question.” If this were someone else, I would not have answered and also set aside his mic.” The minister belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he later issued an apology. 


MEDIA SITUATION IN PAKISTAN


  • July 2019, Pakistani journalists protest across the country over censorship job losses, unpaid wages, and pay cuts.


  • May 2019, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) sent notices to two private channels for “sensationalizing” the brutal rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl (http://www.freedomtalk.net/ do not mention the names of minor rape victims). Pakistani media turned judgemental, release the names and identities of minor victims and accused in the sensitive nature of cases like rape and murders. Media ranting and stubborn repetitive claims of being number and first to break the story had been damaging to the victims, media credibility, ethics, and journalistic values.    


  • March 2019, journalist’s organizations, media workers and the press clubs annoyed over the rapid implementation of the government’s plan to establish controversial Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) and termed it a tool for further cementing the existing draconian laws and attacks on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Speech.


  • February 2019, journalists walked to the Karachi Press Club from their offices to protest the ongoing massive job and pay cuts in the media. As many as 2200 journalists pushed out of the jobs since 2018, and the media workers are protesting across the country.


  • February 2019, press clubs in all the major cities of Pakistan have banned Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, over massive job cuts & non-payment of wages to media workers.


  • February 2019, journalist protested during a press conference of Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting. The journalists alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is involved in financial murder of working journalists and putting an end to press freedom. 


HONORED


  • July 2019, Committee to Protect Journalists honors Pakistani journalist and Dawn News Editor Zafar Abbas, with Press Freedom award.


  • April 2019, the International Press Institute (IPI) named DAWN journalist, Cyril Almeida, "71st World Press Freedom Hero." Mr. Almeida was honored for his courageous coverage on civil-military relations in Pakistan. His fearless and unbiased reporting resulted in his name being on the country’s notorious no-fly list known as Exit Control List (ECL) in 2016. 


FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK ON CAMPUSES


  • March 2019, a third-year English literature student at Bahawalpur's Government Sadiq Egerton College stabbed to death his associate professor Khalid Hameed, the head of the English department because the professor was arranging a welcome party for the students. The student construed it un-Islamic and blasphemous.  


  • March 2019, the Institute of Business and Management (IBM) of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) in Lahore, enforced strict Islamic-leaning dress code for both male and female students and set a penalty of Rs5000 for non-compliance. The dress codes bar all students from wearing jeans; mandatory for the male students to wear Shalwar-Kameez on Fridays and female students from sleeveless shirts, capris, and mandatory headscarves.


  • January 2019, the vice chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, bans forthcoming Valentine Day at the campus and renamed it as “sisters day.” He allowed female students to accept gifts of hijabs and veils.


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