Monitors Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression in Pakistan 

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for Freedom of Speech and Expression. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Pakistan stands sixth among 20 deadliest countries for journalists and in the Freedom of the Press 2017 report released by the Washington-based Freedom House; Press Freedom status of Pakistan is “NOT FREE.”    

The country’s blasphemy laws are disastrously harming the Freedom of Speech. Such laws are taken as “the Licence to kill” by the sympathizers of the Jihadi groups and the vigilantes.

The year 2017 started catastrophically for Freedom of Expression in Pakistan. But the moderators and social media directly threatened in March when Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) decreed against Freedom of Speech to completely shut off social media while shedding tears, swearing in the name of God and overwhelmed by the religious emotions. He received a prompt endorsement from the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar who warned: “We can go to the extent of permanently blocking all such social media websites which would refuse to cooperate with us in blocking the blasphemous content.” The Minister also wants people to stop criticizing judiciary and the government. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has also extended the jurisdictions of the cybercrime law and threatened to persecute those criticizing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on social media. The Prime Minister and his family have been mocked and questioned on social media on many corruption scandals including Panama Papers. In the middle of the storm, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution asking the government an exemplary punishment for the accused under section 295-C, who is blasphemous on social media according to the government’s interpretation.

In another ruling, The Islamabad High Court asked authorities about the departure of the accused bloggers making it impossible for people to run for the safety. It happened in October 2016 when a Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida was immediately put on notorious Exit Control List (ECL) after his investigative article on Civil-Military relationship.

This inflammatory, emotionally and organized provocation by the government, judiciary, law enforcement agencies and vigilantes resulted in the mob killings of three people within just two months and massive arrests of journalists and social media activists; posing direct threats to the activists and their families to be lynched and jailed, restricted press and silencing the voices against corruption and human rights violations. In the speeches, public debates, Friday prayers and on the social media, killing an accused of blasphemy is preaching to be the way to the heaven.

The government remained unmoved and continued to attack, arrest and harass people for their Freedom of Speech despite aggravated killings of its citizens. The Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar is using every possible opportunity to asphyxiate Free Speech. He ordered a crackdown on military critics, wants to track each social media user online, he declared institutions “sacred,” to eliminate criticism, and shutting off secular activists. The other policymakers in the Federal and the provincial governments are unanimously attacking Free Speech and arbitrarily using Cyber Crime Laws. People have taken to the social media to protest against the institutions after the decades-long and acute scarcity of power, water, security, transportation, education, and sanitation. The institutions have failed to deliver after massive penetration of corruption and briberies.    

This judicial and the government alliance against Freedom of Speech and Expression has been widely celebrated by the vigilantes who immensely used ‘blasphemy’ to silence Free Speech or settling in personal disputes. This law does not reprieve even mentally or physically challenged people. At least 70 men and women have been killed on mere suspicion of blasphemy between 1987 and now, and an estimated 1,480 people have been accused under the blasphemy laws. Many of them were tortured to death by the mobs or burnt alive in the kilns. Misinterpretation of this law is equally dangerous for minorities and Muslims. Shahbaz Bhatti, Salman Taseer, and Sabeen Mehmood are internationally known names killed for Freedom of Speech. 

Deaths, Arrests, and Intimidations

  • ​​​October 2017, Journalist Haroon Khan, a reporter for Waqt TV & Akhbar-i-Khaiber murdered in Swabi. The family of the slain journalist called this murder related to a land dispute. However, Taliban conflicted the family’s account and claimed responsibility for his killing.   

  • June 2017, a female retired journalist of Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper Zeba Burney found murdered in her Karachi’s apartment.

  • June 2017, print Journalist Bakhshish Ahmad, Bureau Chief of Daily K2 Times, Shot Dead In Haripur - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

  • May 2017, ARY News’ Chunian correspondent Abdul Razzaque was gunned down while another correspondent Muqadar Hussain, was injured in an attempted robbery.

  • April 2017, an angry mob lynched Mashal Khan, a journalism student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan for his liberal views and Freedom of Expression on social media. Mob hit him with stones, sticks, shot, and threw his body from the second floor of the campus to death, and later tried to set his body ablaze. Police admitted after his brutal murder that Mashal’s social media accounts contained no blasphemous material and many fake accounts were detected using his name.

  • April 2017, three sisters killed a man Fazal Abbas, convicted of blasphemy in Sialkot 

  • April 2017, a mob attacked a mentally challenged man in Chitral, and a 10-year-old boy has been killed and five people wounded after a mob tried to kill a man, Prakash Kumar, convicted of blasphemy.

  • February 2017, Samaa TV’s 22-year-old Assistant Cameraman Taimoor died in an attack on SAMAA TV DSNG van in Karachi.

  • February 2017, unidentified gunmen killed former senior journalist of Geo News, Aftab Alam in Karachi.

  • January 2017, Journalist Muhammad Jan, who worked for Urdu newspaper Qudrat, gunned down in Qalat - Balochistan.

  • Police have yet to arrest the killers of the journalists Saleem Shahzad kidnapped and killed in May 2011 and Shan Dahar, killed on January 1, 2014

Since January 2017, Several bloggers, journalists, and social media activists have been arrested on blasphemy charges and criticizing the government and military.

  • December 2017, the Supreme Court acquitted 58-year-old Muhammad Mansha, convicted of blasphemy after serving nine years in jail.

  • December 2017, a private news channel, Bol TV, accused lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir of blasphemy.

  • December 2017, The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dropped all charges against five bloggers Aamir Liaquat, Sami Ibrahim, Sabir Shakir, Arif Hameed Bhatti, Orya Maqbool Jan and Haroon Rasheed after the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) failure to provide evidence. The incriminated bloggers had to run for their lives and will remain on the hit list of the Islamists vigilantes. The bloggers were accused of committing blasphemy on social media

  • December 2017, peace activist Raza Khan disappears in Lahore. He is also an activist of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an organisation campaigns for better relations between the people of India and Pakistan. 

  • November 2017, Pakistan released Khyber News TV correspondent, Khalil Jibran Afridi after five days detention.

  • November 2017, Pakistan surrenders to the demands of newly emerge Islamists group Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) after they seized capital city of Islamabad and later spread to the other parts of the country. The TLY demands included stiffer penalties over blasphemy, the resignation of those sitting Ministers critical of blasphemy laws, immediate registration of blasphemy cases, and induction of more religious holidays. Pakistan granted full impunity to the Islamists from their killings, assaults, kidnapping, and torture to the journalists and the police. The Islamists also attacked the public and the government property and the houses of parliamentarians. The government also handed cash to the Islamists as a travel allowance to go back to their hometowns.

  • November 2017, anti-blasphemy Islamists burned down Dawn News DSNG van and injured technician Hassan Mateen and two Geo News journalists Talha Hashmi and Tariq Abul Hasan in Karachi and Islamabad.

  • November 2017, The Senate of Pakistan passed amendments in the Elections Act, 2017 defining the status of non-Muslims including Ahmadi, Qadiani and Lahori group and would not include them in the joint electoral lists as Muslims. The Senate passed the amendments after the supporters of a Jihadi group Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLY) seized parts of the capital Islamabad and assaulted people including police officers. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, known for his emotional and religious Islamic sentiments, also ordered the reversal of the bill to the demands of the clerics.   


  • November 2017, it is the sixth year in a row in which Washington based Freedom House puts Pakistan “not free” online.

  • November 2017, a parliamentary committee rejected the government’s bill on the safety of journalists citing that the bill is not aligned to the guidelines set by the United Nations and does not address the safety of the journalists and media workers. 

  • ​November 2017, five Christian families go hiding after death threats to 18-year-old Sonu Arshad. A local TV channel published a fake Facebook page containing arbitrary blasphemy using Sonu’s picture and asking locals to “burn his church and give him the death penalty.”

  • ​November 2017, Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) deputy secretary general, Syed Nasir Abbas Shirazi, kidnapped in Lahore.

  • ​October 2017, information secretary of the Baloch Human Rights Organization, Nawaz Atta, kidnapped in Karachi.

  • ​October 2017, unidentified men stabbed The News journalist Ahmed Noorani and his driver in Islamabad.

  • ​October 2017, blogger Asim Saeed, one of the five activists disappeared in Pakistan in January this year, made torture claims against authorities while in detention. He is now seeking asylum in Britain.

  • ​October 2017, police arrest the caretaker of a local mosque over alleged blasphemy in Kasur - Punjab.

  • October 2017, female Pakistani journalists share stories of harassment at the workplace

  • ​October 2017, banned Baloch separatist United Baloch Army (UBA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) made direct threats to the media and journalist of dire consequences of what they believed for being anti-Baloch press.

  • ​October 2017, The Federal Inves­tigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing arrested two men Anwar Aadil and Wajid Rasul Malik. The FIA said the men posted derogatory remarks against the government and the institutions.  

  • ​October 2017, all three journalists Islam Gul Afridi, Shahnawaz Tarkzai and Junaid Ibrahim returned home after 24 hours mysterious disappearance in in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

  • October 2017, Media student and a journalist for the Pashtun Express, Junaid Ibrahim was picked up by unidentified men in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

  • ​October 2017, journalist Islam Gul Afridi, working for Radio Pakistan and other websites reportedly disappeared from Khyber Agency.

  • ​October 2017, unidentified men picked up journalist Shahnawaz Tarkzai, a reporter for Mashal Radio while visiting the media center in Shabqadar.

  • ​October 2017, police registered a case of blasphemy under Section 298-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against a young man for his social media posts in Haripur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

  • ​ September 2017, two men and two women booked under blasphemy laws for using the code of a local spiritual saint to perform a wedding instead of Islamic code in Jamshoro, Sindh.

  • ​September 2017, unidentified motorcyclists hurled rock and smashed the windscreen of the car of senior journalist and TV show host Matiullah Jan who was traveling with his sons.   

  • ​September 2017, A Christian man sentenced to death for arbitrary blasphemy for sending a poem as WhatsApp text to his friend in Lahore.  

  • ​September 2017, Four police officials suspended for torturing journalist Irfan Khoso in Thar, Sindh.

  • ​August 2017, a Christian teenaged boy was viciously beaten by the angry mob on suspicion of blaspheming the Holy Book of Islam in Faisalabad, Punjab. Later, he was booked under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code – punishable with life imprisonment.

  • August 2017, an estimated 80 activists of separatist’s movements activists disappeared during past two months predominantly from Sindh and Balochistan. Most of the activists missing belong to Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) and Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM).

  • August 2017, Inaam Abbasi, Editor of the Sindhi language Nao Niapo magazine abducted in Karachi.

  • ​August 2017, Ghulam Rassol Burfati, sub-editor of Sindhi language Daily Sindh Express Hyderabad kidnapped in Jamshoro.

  • ​August 2017, Activists Partab Shivani, Naseer Kumbhar and Umer Uner, returned home after 48 hours of their disappearance from the city of Mithi in Tharparkar, Sindh.

  • ​August 2017, Punhal Sario, the leader of the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, arrested from Hyderabad. He was released in October 2017.

  • ​July 2017, two cops suspended in Karachi for assaulting Express News reporter, Sajid Rauf.

  • ​ July 2017, journalist Aitzaz Hassan of Dawn News and female reporter Saba Bajeer of 24 News channel briefly detained and mishandled for doing their jobs at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) in Islamabad. FIA Assistant Director Tahir Tanveer approached Bajeer, grabbed her by the arm and ordered to delete photos.

  • ​July 2017, Christian janitor Shahzad Masih, arrested on blasphemy charges following the complaints of the members of a religious group, Tehreek-e-Tuhafaz Islam Pakistan (TTIP) in Gujrat, Punjab.

  • ​July 2017, the  Supreme Court of Pakistan orders action against Hijazi; the identity of the person who leaked picture to be disclosed.

  • July 2017, journalist Abdullah Zafar of English newspaper the Nation blindfolded & taken away from his house in Karachi by unknown men including two in the Police Uniform. The unidentified abductors dropped him off after 20 hours near Karachi Airport. The motive and where the journalist was kept during his ordeal remained anonymous.  

  • ​June 30, unidentified shooters fired shots at the house of the award-winning women rights activist Tabassum Adnan in Swat.

  • ​June 2017, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Zafarullah Achakzai, a reporter for the Qudrat daily newspaper in Quetta under Prevention of Cyber Act 2016 for his social media criticism of the government.

  • ​June 2017, two unidentified men stabbed and robbed photojournalist Zeeshan Ali, working at the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) in Islamabad.

  • ​June 2017, a minority Shiite Muslim, 30-year-old man Taimoor Raza sentenced to death for blasphemy on Facebook in Multan. Raza was set up by an undercover agent disguising himself as a Facebook friend.  

  • ​June 2017, money dispute for less than a dollar landed a Christian man Ashfaq Masih in jail on blasphemy in Lahore.

  • ​June 2017, clerics and Madrassah students of Haqqania Masjid Islamabad thrash Din News journalists and broke cameras for drinking water during Ramzan fast.

  • ​June 2017, security guards of University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) attacked and injured reporters and cameramen affiliated with Dunya News, Samaa and Express among other media outlets.  

  • ​June 2017, The Express Tribune reporter Rana Tanveer claimed that he had been hit by a car for advocating minority’s rights.   

  • ​June 2017, senior Geo TV correspondent Aizaz Syed, files a police report of his attempted kidnapping in Islamabad.

  • ​May 2017, an officer of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chaudhry Shahzad, two other persons namely Abid Kiani, his son Umar Kiani and their security guards physically assaulted Geo News reporter Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai.

  • ​April 2017, the police briefly detained 'Fix it’ founder Alamgir Khan.

  • April 2017, law enforcement agencies arrested two Karachi University Professors, Dr. Riaz Ahmed and Dr. Meher Afroz before their press conference near Karachi Press Club.

  • April 2017, five students were briefly detained in Lahore for chanting ‘Go Nawaz Go.’ Nawaz Sharif is the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

  • ​ April 2017, Mob seriously injured a mentally challenged man Ahmed, in a mosque doubting his utterance as blasphemous. Imam of the mosque Khaleeq uz Zaman heroically saved Ahmed’s life. 

  • ​March 2017, Police registered a case against 92 News ANDHER NAGRI TEAM.

  • ​February 2017, Social media activist Nasir Khanjan was arrested and granted bail in Lower Dir, but his case transferred to the Federal Police. The police said Nasir social media activities were offensive to the Pushtuns.

  • ​February 2017, the State-Owned Pakistan Television (PTV) female anchor Tanzeela Mazhar resigned after her harassment complaint ignored against a politically well-connected male officer.

  • ​January 2017, unidentified men brutally attacked and injured TV reality show host Waqar Zaka in Karachi.

  • January 2017, three people attacked and wounded Journalist Shamsur Rehman Shams in Kohistan. Mr. Shamsur is the general secretary of the Kohistan Union of Journalists. 

Censorships | Bans | Fines

Facebook was banned in Pakistan 2010 for two weeks and again for four years between 2012 and 2016. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocks many sites and silences the media by alleging “Blasphemous Material,” or “Propaganda against the Country.” WordPress, Flicker, Wikipedia, and Twitter are also filtered by The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority or Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA).

Since 2016, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has shut down 12,968 websites. Facebook has removed 85% of the material perceived blasphemous by the government, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has collected Rs 70 million worth of fines during past two years. Over the past six months, the government has banned many satirical shows and programs like Khabaristan Times, Dr. Shahid Massod show, Zara Hut Kay (for three days), Geo Pakistan (five days) and demanded a ban on Dawn Newspaper. Pemra also fined and issued notices to different channels for remarks against the Prime Minister, the Inspector General of Police in Sindh and the politicians.  

A renowned Pakistani filmmaker Hamza Bangash told DAWN in April this year, “Screenwriters in Pakistani cinema have a gun to their heads.”

While citizens face deaths and arrests for their Freedom of Expression on Facebook; According to a report published in Dawn on May 30, 2017, “41 of Pakistan’s 64 banned outfits are present on Facebook in the form of hundreds of pages, groups and individual user profiles.” 

  • ​December 2017, An Islamist group, the International Khatm-i-Nabuwat Movement (IKNM) threatens barbers of dire consequences for trimming un-Islamic beards in Mansehra.

  • ​December 2017, bloggers and social media activists face imminent dangers of arrests and censorship as Islamabad High Court directs Pakistan government to increase monitoring online anti-blasphemy.

  • ​December 2017, Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) forbid Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L) party workers from visiting cemeteries in Karachi and Hyderabad. The party activists wanted to honor those killed for the party’s cause.

  • ​November 2017, fearing Jihadist backlash, Pakistan shuts down news channels, Facebook, YouTube, internet and phone in many parts to conceal confrontation with anti-blasphemy Islamists.

  • ​November 2017, The Akhurwal Union in Darra Adam Khel, bans the hiring of transgender and female dancers for festivities.

  • November 2017, police start removing world-famous street arts from vehicles purporting “vulgarity” In Peshawar.

  • ​November 2017, another danger unfolding for social media activists, journalists, and free press as Pakistan forms Regulatory Body to monitor and block online blasphemous Contents.

  • ​October 2017, separatists groups blocked newspapers delivery to many parts of Balochistan province.

  • ​October 2017, responding criticism & suppressing free speech, capital Islamabad revokes publication rights of two daily newspapers Sahafat & Dopahr.

  • ​October 2017, a group of clerics refused to perform nikah (marriage) for those playing loud music in Peshawar. 

  • ​October 2017, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal revealed plans to further intensify control and censorship over social media.  

  • ​October 2017, research by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) and Bytes for All Pakistan reveals that more than 200 URLs censored in Pakistan during past three years.

  • ​October 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) imposed a fine of Rs1 million on Geo News for airing comments on the armed forces of “institutional corruption” in TV programme “Aapas ki Baat.”

  • ​October 2017, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) debarred journalists from entering the accountability court in Islamabad where deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was attending his hearing in one of his corruption cases.

  • ​September 2017, Taliban styled clerics ban musical parties in Landi Kotal, FATA.

  • ​September 2017, Police registered a case against the cocktail party after an invitation goes viral with liquor bottles pics in DG Khan.

  • ​September 2017, Pakistan media regulatory authority (PEMRA) issues show cause notice to Bol News for its host’s Hamza Abbasi remarks about Pakistani passport.

  • ​September 2017, Pakistan media regulatory authority (PEMRA) needs an explanation from URDU1 channel for airing censored Indian movie Dangal.

  • ​August 2017, 64,000 social media users dubbed as “Cyber Criminals,” reported to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

  • ​August 2017, The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to go after the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the PTA believes spreading blasphemous contents.  

  • ​July 2017, Pakistan asks Facebook to link accounts to mobile numbers, but Facebook refused.

  • ​July 2017, Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Marriyum  Auranzeb puts a lifetime ban on a poet from national TV after a Comedy show.

  • ​July 2017, Police busted a Dance Party & briefly detained 50 men & women in Islamabad.

  • ​May 2017, Police shut down a dance party over the weekend following the threats of religious Sunni Tehrik Lahore President Maulana Mujahid Abdul Rasool in Sozo Water Park, Lahore.

  • ​May 2017, The Senate Standing Committee passed the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017 carrying 3-month jail and fines Rs500 to Rs25,000 for the people who smoke, eat or drink openly during the month of Ramdan.

  • May 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) sends text messages to the millions of Pakistanis containing the material, “Uploading and sharing the blasphemous content on the internet is a punishable offense under the law. Such contents should be reported on info for legal action.”

  • ​May 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) revokes Bol News license citing that the directors did not obtain security clearance from the Interior Ministry.

  • April 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) fines Abb Tak and Channel-24 following a complaint by Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.D. Khawaja.

  • ​April 2017, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif orders Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan arrest all of those responsible for blasphemous material on social media and internet.

  • ​April 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan censors a song on Jalwa TV following a campaign by a religious journalist.  

  • ​March 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) fines Hum TV for Rs 1 million citing ‘indecent content’ in drama series ‘Kitni Girhein Baqi Hein.’

  • ​March 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) bans Geo TV morning show 'Geo Pakistan' citing indecency.

  • ​March 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issues show cause notice to ARY News over comments on a statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

  • ​March 2017, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) suspends Dawn News programme Zara Hut Kay for three days.

  • ​March 2017, Islamabad police register case against unidentified individuals containing blasphemous material.

  • March 2017, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar threatens to block all social media sites which he thinks contain blasphemous material.

  • ​March 2017, The Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui declares all of those uploading blasphemous material as “terrorists.”

  • March 2017, The Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui orders to block all social media if necessary.

  • February 2017, The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) censors Indian film Raees, in which the leading role was played by a Pakistani Actress, Mahira Khan.

  • ​January 2017, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocks political satire website Khabristan Times.

Political Parties Attacks against Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression

One of the many shocking realities in Pakistan that the armed wings of the major political parties have always been hostile to the Freedom of Expression and Free Press.

  • December 2017, all 6,286 women voters in Islamists control Dir Districts in Pakistan deprived of the voting rights in municipal by-elections.   

  • November 2017, Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI),  known for its support to the Islamists, says his workers wanted to join anti-blasphemy clerics at Faizabad.  

  • November 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) praised the killer of a former governor of the Punjab Salman Taseer’s killer Mumtaz Qadri in the By-election campaigns for NA-101 and NA-120 for winning Islamists votes. Qadri killed Salman Taseer for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws. Later, Mumtaz Qadri was put to death by a Pakistani court. Islamists declared Qadri “martyr” who gave his life for Islam.  

  • According to a suspect confession, sectarian Awami National Party (ANP) hired Taliban to murder female activist Parveen Rehman in Karachi in 2013.

  • October 2017, a newly emerged Jihadi group turned political party, Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan secured 7.6 percent votes vote in a by-election in Peshawar promising “Death to blasphemers.”

  • October 2017, Capt (R) Safdar of ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) and son-in-law of the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for a ban on hiring Ahmadis minorities in the armed forces and other important institutions of the country in a fiery hate speech in the Parliament.

  • October 2017, a religious parliamentarian and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman issues an edict of Death Penalty to anyone criticizing an Islamic Khatm-e-Nabuwwat law while addressing a public rally in Swat.

  • September 2017, Security staff assault reporters of channels 92 & Duniya News at the accountability court in Islamabad where deposed PM Nawaz Sharif was present to face corruption charges.  

  • September 2017, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader KhursheedShah, known for land grabbing and living in a house built on a grabbed land, threatens SAMAA TV's Sukkur Bureau Chief, Imdad Phulpoto by offering a land for his grave. The politician was trying to dodge the questions about his reported links with land mafia.

  • August 2017, crews of Bol News and ARY News assaulted in deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s rally.

  •  July 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) condemning blogger Waqas Goraya and TheNews journalist Ahmad Noorani for in Chiniot.

  • ​July 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) woman councilor Hina Akhtar and accomplices arrested in Haripur for the murder of journalist Bakhshish Elahi, the bureau chief of an Urdu newspaper.

  • June 2017, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) lawmaker and the Public Accounts Committee chairman Abdul Majeed Khan Achakzai crushed an on-duty police officer to death. He shouted a stream of expletives at the journalists in the premises of the judicial magistrate’s court.

  •  June 2017, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq threatened journalists to revoke their entry passes for video recording inside the parliament house.

  • June 2017, The Express Tribune reporter, Zubair Ashraf was beaten by the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) president’s guards when the reporter complaint about dangerous driving of the politician’s motorcade that almost took his life.

  • April 2017, Pervez Khattak, the Chief Minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) told the large crowd of people, “Will cut tongue and eyes of those wanting to amend the blasphemy laws.’ He was referring to the calls to amend blasphemy laws following the mob lynching of the journalism student Mashal Khan.

  • ​ April 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) councilor Arif Mardan said, “those who reveal Mashal's killer will be guilty of apostasy.”

  • March 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Ali Muhammad Khan warned the bloggers in talk show “Whoever wants to turn Pakistan into a secular state should mend their ways or move to such a country.”

  • March 2017, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Aleem Khan infuriated when journalists asked about his involvement with land mafia, the most lucrative business in Pakistan. Aleem Khan used his anger to dodge the questions.

  • ​February 2017, Anusha Rehman, Minister of state for Information Technology snatched journalist Azam Gill’s phone outside the parliament and threatened him with fourteen years in prison. She belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim (League PML-N).

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression under Attack on Campuses   

Over the years, mob lynching and vigilantes have taken the law into their hands, primarily using blasphemy laws as a pretext to their crimes. Intolerance and Freedom account almost 98 percent of campus violence in Pakistan.

The strangulation of Free Speech on Campuses has strengthened the status quo of political inheritance and radicalization in Pakistan. Though the military regime banned the student’s union in 1984, the successive governments of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) could not reinstate campus freedom and flaring up of on-campus violence. Political parties manipulated the student’s unions for their benefits of street power, strikes, extortions, and intimidations. The formation of the unions is based on religious, linguistic and political affiliations rather than intellectual or nonviolent manifestations. 


  • December 2017, Bacha Khan University in Charsadda bans male and female students sitting together.

  • November 2017, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Provincial Chief Mushtaq Ahmad termed co-education system a ‘ticking time bomb’ for youth.

  • October 2017, after the International Islamic University (IIUI), students of University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila also protest against Taliban inspired restrictions.

  • October 2017, female students of the International Islamic University (IIUI) Islamabad, protested against harsh and Taliban styled restriction over dress code, socializing with male students and detention within campus during academic hours.

  • October 2017, police arrest 70 students protesting against administration at the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad.

  • October 2017, new Taliban era dress code of the International Islamic University (IIUI) Islamabad censored anything but baggy dress for female students.

  • October 2017, News emerged of the security chief’s embarrassing behavior towards females after he scolded a visiting faculty member over un-Islamic dress code at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), Karachi.

  • September 2017, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies plan to collect data of the students attending universities in Karachi.

  • September 2017, a poor teenaged boy was beaten to death for being Christian in his classroom by students at MC Model Boys Government High School in the Vehari area in Punjab.

  • August 2017, Karachi Grammar School (KGS) canceled a plan for students to sing ‘Imagine’, the world-famous 1971 ode to peace by John Lennon, after complaints that the song encourages atheism and blasphemy. Unfortunately, the campaign against the song started by a journalist Ansar Abbasi.

  •  May 2017, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) disrupts and demands a ban on the cultural events and music at the University of Peshawar (UoP).

  • ​May 2017, 30 students reported injured the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in a violent fight between two students groups in Islamabad.

  • ​April 2017, Sindhi and Baloch students group fought at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad. The administration did not disclose the number of the injured students.

  • ​ April 2017, Journalism student Mashal Khan brutally mob lynched at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan.  

  • ​April 2017, law enforcement agencies arrested two Karachi University Professors, Dr. Riaz Ahmed and Dr. Meher Afroz before their press conference near Karachi Press Club.

  • ​March 2017, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) banned Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s books from the book fair at the University of Peshawar (UoP).

  • ​March 2017, five students injured at the Punjab University (PU) when Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) backed Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) attacked a cultural show.

  • ​March 2017, International Islamic University in Islamabad (IIUI) told female students to stay on the campus until the university time is over. The female students cannot leave even if they have one class scheduled for the day. They need a written permission in case of emergency.   

  • ​February 2017, three students injured at the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi. The fight erupted between two factions of the Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation (APMSO)

Media and journalists have already self-censored to modify Freedom of Speech. Political manipulations, killings, censorships, misogyny, unbelievably high costs to stay in business and religious affiliations have largely bifurcated media in Pakistan. Based on social media activities of the verified pages, thirty Press Clubs out of an estimated ninety in the country (as on December 2016), have openly asked for death penalties and harshest punishments for accusers. None of the press clubs have officially denounced blasphemy laws.    

Pakistan Press Foundation – PPF, did not condemn the laws hostile to the Freedom of Speech, instead, in an article on International Women's Day, “promote the safety of female staff,” they entirely ignored missing female journalist Zeenat Shahzadi (Click to read about Zeenat Shahzadi). Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist – PFUJ and Pakistan Journalist Association – PJA have also turned blind eyes from the issue. In a Facebook post on March 11, 2017, PJA asked the government for punishing the social media activists. PJA runs Facebook page as “Mukhtar Ahmad Naz.”  One of the most infamous politicians, known as Mr. Ten percent and seen as the mastermind of his own two times Prime Minister wife, has been provided a launching pad for a TV channel to support his comeback in 2018 elections. Being a former president, he enjoys unlimited political impunity likewise many other politicians. Several large sized media outlets are biased, partisan and affiliates of religious and political parties.

Now an unholy alliance of vigilantes, police, state, biased media, and judiciary are up against Freedom of Speech, and the world is watching; intermittently with verbal praise and photo ops.   

Cyber Crime and Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill (PECB) grant unchecked powers to the authorities to arrest, spy and convict people. Section 20 of PECB enabling police and individuals to arrest and manipulate the use of the internet. The police are now empowered to register a case of blasphemy under IT Act 153A, 295 IPC sections 66 based on a screen grab of the social media. The government is asking Facebook to block anything blasphemous, satirical and libel according to the government’s perception or reveal the source of the writers and creators of such material.