Pakistan’s media was widely seen as among the region’s most vibrant after military rule ended in 2008, but a dozen newspaper and TV journalists say the industry is now in disarray because of intimidation and army pressure.
In separate interviews with Reuters, they said a media crackdown that began in the run-up to the July election of new Prime Minister Imran Khan had morphed into widespread self-censorship by journalists fearful of repercussions if they criticise Khan, the military or courts.
A number of political commentators and opposition politicians say Khan is backed by the establishment, a term used in Pakistan to mean the military and intelligence top brass, along with some senior civil servants and judges. His main rival, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was at loggerheads with the military.
Adding to the atmosphere of fear is a treason case filed against a prominent newspaper columnist, Cyril Almeida, following an interview he conducted with Sharif that mentioned the role of Pakistani militants in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
“There is a culture of silence. People are reluctant to talk about who is behind this,” Islamabad bureau chief of independent Capital TV Murtaza Solangi told Reuters.