Pakistan ranks 147th out of 180 countries in the latest world rankings for Press freedom
The media in Pakistan is “among the freest in Asia”, according to World Press Freedom Report 2016.
Although self-censorship is widely practiced within news organizations, “The Pakistani media are nonetheless regarded as among the freest in Asia when it comes to covering the squabbling among politicians,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Report 2016 said.
Journalists are targeted by extremist groups, Islamist organizations and Pakistan’s feared intelligence organizations, all of which are on RSF’s list of predators of press freedom. Although at war with each other, they are all always ready to denounce acts of “sacrilege” by the media.
The report, released on Wednesday showed that Pakistan had jumped 12 spots to 147 in RSF’s in 2016 World Press Freedom Index, up from 159 in 2015 and 158 in 2014.
The advocacy group which ranks 180 countries on indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, rule of law, transparency and abuses noted that while terrorists and government may be at war with each other, both are “all always ready to denounce acts of “sacrilege” by the media.”
“We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way” the Report noted.
Among the lowest ranked countries were Syria, at 177th place out of 180, just below China (176th) but above North Korea (179th) and last placed Eritrea.
India continues to languish in the bottom third of the 2016 World Press Freedom Index “because of the number of journalists killed and the impunity for crimes of violence against the media.”
The situation is worsening in India, which is now ranked 133rd out of 180 countries, although its media are dynamic and much more capable of playing the role of democracy’s watchdog than the media in most other countries in last third of the Index.
The 2016 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, published on 20 April, shows that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels.
The many reasons for this decline in freedom of information include the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of governments in countries such as Turkey and Egypt, tighter government control of state-owned media, even in some European countries such as Poland, and security situations that have become more and more fraught, in Libya and Burundi, for example, or that are completely disastrous, as in Yemen.
Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries using the following criteria – pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative environment, transparency, infrastructure, and abuses.