ISLAMABAD: The country’s ranking in the index for freedom of speech and media independence has improved by 7 points as a result of Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb’s denial of the claim that journalists went missing during the tenure of the current government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“Name me one missing journalist. She claimed to a foreign media journalist that Imran Riaz was now a spokesperson for a political party in an effort to misrepresent media freedom and independence.
“No, you really have to draw the distinction. You name one person who is missing, one journalist who is being shot, one journalist who has been kidnapped, one journalist whose ribs are broken,” she said while responding to a query.
She further said, “Now, listen to me, you have to differentiate between a journalist and former journalists who have joined a political party. Once they have joined political parties, they are inciting violence, they are spokespersons of these political parties”.
Marriyum said the parallel should not be drawn among the parties’ spokespersons and “independent journalists who report and who believe in true journalism.”
Imran Khan was called “media predator” while under Shehbaz Sharif’s government, media freedom had improved by 7 points in less than one year time and the same organization “which called Mr Khan a media predator” had significantly improved rating of Pakistan in freedom of expression and media independence.
She recalled journalists were arrested and silenced while their programs were sent off air and their channels faced suspension during the tenure of Imran Khan.
“All the anchors today talk their minds, they are not silenced and I said before… name a journalist who is missing, none…, she remarked.
“If a person has gone missing, be it any person, I condemn that,” the minister said adding there were cases against Imran Riaz and he has to give answer before the court.
“I will not stand by any stance that is otherwise which I have been voicing but you have to really differentiate between the party spokespersons and journalists,” she maintained.
The minister pointed out that the freedom of expression and media independence index would not be improved by 7 ranks if there was no improvement in freedom of media and expression.