Cases of intimidation of journalists criticizing the role of the army in Pakistan’s politics have increased dramatically in recent years. As per Reporters without Frontiers, in the last two months, nine cases have been registered against journalists who criticized the military’s interference in Pakistan’s politics.

Paris-based media watchdog Reports Without Frontiers (RSF) has accused the Pakistan Army of running a campaign to suppress the voice of the media. The RSF said such cases have increased after Shahbaz Sharif took over. The RSF has warned the Pakistani Army that if such activities are not stopped, the country’s democratic system will be weakened. The head of the RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said on Saturday that if the situation continues, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa will be responsible for the collapse of press freedom in Pakistan.

The head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, “the many cases of harassment that RSF has registered in the past 2 months have one thing in common- all the journalists concerned had in one way or another, criticized the Army’s role in Pakistan politics.”

“It is clear from the data that I am forced to launch a major campaign to intermediate critical journalists. This kind of interference, which is absolutely intolerable, must stop at once or else the chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, will be held directly responsible for the decline in press freedom in Pakistan,” RSF said. 

Three individuals recently attacked Sami Ibrahim, a news anchor for BOL, in front of the TV station’s offices in Islamabad’s Melody neighbourhood.

Ibrahim claimed they were waiting outside the TV station to harass him while filming the scene in a video that was aired on his YouTube channel the following day. They subsequently departed in a car marked by green licence plates, which indicate a state-owned vehicle.

The incident occurred six weeks after legal action was initiated against Ibrahim for violating articles 499, 505, and 131 of the penal code, which, respectively, penalise defamation, words that encourage public disturbance, and “abetting mutiny.”

Multiple similar occurrences have taken place in previous years as a result of the army’s censorship of free speech in Pakistan.

The army is frequently regarded as questioning the man beneath Pakistan’s democratic façade, according to RSF.

The RSS frequently brought up military attempts to censor the media and express freedom violations during Imran Khan’s four years as prime minister, including harassment of journalists, physical assaults, shooting attacks, kidnappings, threats, and direct censorship of traditional media, video platforms, and social media. The atrocities appear to go on forever.

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