Pakistan press freedom under pressure from army

Journalists claim they are forced to self-censor criticism of the military after indirect threats from army officials

Hamid Mir knew one of the guests on his nightly television show had made a mistake the moment he blurted out the name of the country’s army chief without due deference.

“He just said ‘Raheel Sharif, Raheel Sharif’ without calling him general,” Mir says of a recent episode of his influential Capital Talk programme. “I knew immediately the words came out it would be cut.”

At a time of intense pressure on the media to cooperate with an army public relations campaign that is burnishing the image of General Sharif, channels routinely edit out or drop the sound on the mildest criticism of the military.

Even the country’s only Nobel peace prize winner, the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, was briefly silenced in early August when she said in an interview with Aaj TV that the prime minister had told her he was unable to spend more money on education because of pressure to fund military operations.

Mir fears that behind the pressure for self-censorship lurk “anti-democratic forces deliberately trying to undermine political institutions by giving more importance to the army.”

Leading journalists claim to have received indirect threats from army officials who warn them they are being targeted by terrorists or that their coverage is raising suspicions they have been compromised by the Indian intelligence service.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/14/pakistan-press-freedom-army-journalists-military?CMP=share_btn_fb

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