Pakistan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The constitution and other laws authorize the government to curb freedom of speech on subjects including the constitution, the armed forces, the judiciary, and religion. Concern was raised that three ordinances adopted in August--the Press Council Ordinance, the Registration Ordinance, and the Defamation Ordinance--will further restrict freedom of expression. During the year, Islamic fundamentalists and thugs hired by feudal landlords continued to harass journalists and attack newspaper offices. On several occasions, journalists were also subjected to physical attacks by police and political activists. The kidnap and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Islamic militants in early 2002 focused international attention on the dangers of reporting in Pakistan. While journalists practice some self-censorship, the independent press continues to present outspoken and diverse viewpoints. However, President Pervez Musharraf appeared to have become less tolerant of criticism. In March, editor Shaheen Sehbai resigned under pressure and left the country after The News published a story on the links between Pearl's killers and official intelligence agencies. He and his family continued to face legal harassment throughout the year. Other prominent editors also complained of receiving threats from intelligence agencies. Nearly all broadcast media are state-owned, and coverage favors the government.