Freedom of the Press

Pakistan

Pakistan

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

57

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

26

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

16

The beginning of U.S. and allied hostilities in neighboring Afghanistan in October exacerbated problems for domestic and foreign journalists in Pakistan. Prior to the anti-terrorist war, official intimidation of journalists had tapered off. There were several cases of reporters tried under anti-blasphemy laws, the mandatory penalty for which is death. Journalists claimed these were politically motivated charges. The police shut down the offices of the Frontier Post and charged seven staff members with blasphemy for publishing alleged derogatory references to the Prophet Mohammad. Editors of an Urdu language paper faced similar charges. Islamic fundamentalists and thugs of landlords harassed journalists and attacked newspaper offices. After the Afghan war began, Pakistan initially closed the frontier to journalists and expelled several European correspondents. Later, an angry mob attacked members of the foreign press corps from several countries. In October, the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed its concern over the Musharraf government's apparent refusal to grant visas to journalists of Indian descent. Yet Pakistan continued to have some of the most outspoken newspapers in South Asia. Nearly all broadcast media are state-owned, though plans to privatize the system were announced in March. Its coverage, meanwhile, favors the government.