It’s a double-whammy that the Pakistani news media is facing these days. There is the financial crunch, which was predicted by many since long. And then, of course, there is the issue of press censorship, of which we are currently seeing the worst spell in recent history.
Statements and op-ed articles that would scarcely have raised eyebrows in February last year, became unacceptable by May, and fare that was acceptable in May, became unthinkable to publish by August. This trajectory has continued till this day, to the extent that writing this very piece is a one-step-forward-two-steps-back process.
The mere mention of a social movement that keeps pulling in massive numbers at rallies across the country despite a complete media blackout is now completely unacceptable.
However, a strange situation has been created by the fact that two members from the apex council of that movement happen to be sitting members of the National Assembly.
Assembly footage on one of the PTVs usually tends to be sleepy fare. Feet upon feet of tape (now, GBs upon GBs of data) can be requisitioned from the PTV by the private channels (and, indeed, private citizens) but no one does. The same is the case of the parliamentary transcripts, only the spicier bits of which make it to the news.
But these two (the footage and the transcript) are now perhaps the only bits of media where free discussion can take place on the issue. Ironic.