ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb refuted the “notion” of journalists going missing under Shehbaz Sharif’s government, emphasising a seven-point increase in the nation’s ranking for freedom of speech and media independence.
Responding to Secunder Kermani, foreign affairs correspondent for Britain’s Channel 4 News, “attempting to portray a false perception” about media independence and freedom of speech, Aurangzeb challenged the claim, asking for the name of “one missing journalist or any instances of violence or kidnapping.”
She also clarified the distinction between journalists and former journalists who have joined political parties, saying that once they become associated with political parties, the journalists can incite violence and act as spokespersons, which differs from the role of independent journalists who adhere to true journalism.
Aurangzeb highlighted the contradiction in referring to former prime minister Imran Khan as a “media predator” while under Sharif’s government, media freedom improved by seven points within a year, as recognised by the “same organisation that labeled Khan as such.”
She recalled “instances” during Khan’s tenure where journalists were “arrested, silenced, and had their programs taken off the air, resulting in channel suspensions.”
The minister claimed that journalists today freely express their opinions and are not silenced. She reiterated her condemnation of any instances of individuals going missing and explained that there are criminal complaints against anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, who must respond before the court.
Aurangzeb emphasized the need to differentiate between party spokespersons and journalists, saying that the improvement in the freedom of expression and media independence index would not have occurred without progress in media freedom and expression.