REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

FOREIGN REPORTERS EXPELLED AS LEASH ON PRESS TIGHTENS

Three U.K. reporters from "The Daily Telegraph" have been expelled from Pakistan after an "offensive" editorial was published last week, adding to the political crisis in the country. Twenty-seven IFEX members, in a joint action led by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), are calling for an end to the state of emergency and the resulting restrictions on and harassment of journalists.

On 10 November, Isambard Wilkinson, Colin Freeman and Damien McElroy were given 72 hours to leave the country for using foul and abusive language against Pakistan and the country's leadership in a "Daily Telegraph" editorial published on 9 November, report PPF and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The three journalists are the first foreign reporters to be expelled since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule a week prior to respond to a "growing Islamic militant threat."

IFEX members have joined journalists in Pakistan in condemning Musharraf's stranglehold on the media. He has taken most domestic and international news channels off the air, including CNN and the BBC, introduced official censorship and raided and closed independent media outlets.

Journalists across Pakistan have continued to hold daily protests after the government refused to withdraw two ordinances that prohibit the media from broadcasting or publishing critical news. Those who fail to cooperate face up to three years in jail.

According to IFJ, journalists declared 9 November a "black day" during which they wore black arm bands, hoisted black flags and continued to boycott official government functions.

IFJ and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), are calling for a global day of action on 15 November. IFJ is encouraging free expression advocates to apply pressure to Pakistan as well as to their governments to rescind the emergency decree and uphold Musharraf's prior commitments to free expression in the country.

Many media owners also condemned the government for allowing small broadcasters to reinstate their domestic transmissions in exchange for agreeing to comply with the ordinances. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the government is now telling broadcasters to sign a 14-page "code of conduct" to be allowed to return to the air. So far, about 15 broadcasters have agreed to sign and are now broadcasting.

But Pakistan's four major independent news broadcasters have not reappeared on cable yet, choosing to reach viewers via Internet streaming or satellite transmission instead. Police have responded by stopping the sale of satellite dishes in at least two cities and threatening sellers with severe punishment, say IFJ and local news reports.

According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), at least six journalists have been jailed during the state of emergency, including World Editors Forum board member Imtiaz Alam. Dozens of others have reportedly been assaulted and prevented from working.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was placed under house arrest for the second time in four days to prevent her from leading a march today (13 November) to protest emergency rule. Her detention further dimmed prospects for an alliance with Musharraf, who was given a 10-day deadline yesterday by the Commonwealth to reverse his crackdown or see Pakistan suspended from the group.

Visit these links:
- IFEX joint action: http://tinyurl.com/ypgz6n
- Alerts on Pakistan: http://tinyurl.com/23z96j
- PPF news: http://tinyurl.com/22g3gz
- IFJ, Pakistan crisis updates: http://www.ifj.org
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/2ymlte
- Human Rights Watch: http://tinyurl.com/2yloqf
- WAN: http://www.wan-press.org/article15496.html
- "Telegraph" article: http://tinyurl.com/2ze9qk
- Last week's "IFEX Communiqué" spotlight on Pakistan: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/87469/
- Rural Media Network Pakistan: http://online-rmnp.tripod.com/
(13 November 2007)

Latest Tweet:

Downward spiral in Nicaragua and Mexico, threats on the rise in Colombia and Peru, but reasons for optimism in Ecua… https://t.co/CtyIhJrnMg

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.

CLOSE