The United States administration has said they are aware of the “significant restrictions” on media outlets and civil societies in Pakistan, amid reports of apparent risks to journalists and their livelihood.
Pakistan is ranked 157 in the World Press Freedom Index report 2022 released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “Pakistan is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, with three to four murders each year that are often linked to cases of corruption or illegal trafficking and which go completely unpunished,” it read.
There are now around 100 TV channels and more than 200 radio stations in the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday addressed the media briefing as the world celebrated the World Press Freedom Day, which according to the United Nations acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to a free press and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
“The short answer is yes, we take this up in our engagements with Pakistani counterparts,” Blinken said in response to a question on the state of journalists in the country. He added that the annual Human Rights reports are also a point of discussion during the meetings.
“Here again a vibrant free press, and an informed citizenry are key for any nation and its future, including Pakistan, and I think these practices that we see undermine freedom of expression,” the US secretary of state said.
Blinken was of the view that such circumstances undermine peaceful assembly, the country’s image and its ability to progress. “So it is something that comes up both in our direct engagements and in the work that we’re doing every day.”