Press freedom in Pakistan is under siege, as journalists face physical attacks, threats, and online and judicial harassment, according to IPI monitoring data from October 2022 and March 2023.

At least 35 press freedom threats and violations occurred during this six-month period, more than half of which were committed by public authorities, including by law enforcement and the judiciary.

There were at least 10 documented cases of violent physical attacks against journalists during this monitoring period. In October 2022, Sadaf Naeem, a reporter for Pakistani Channel 5 television died after being crushed to death under a container truck while covering a political rally. In December 2022, Naseer Ghumman, a bureau chief of a daily newspaper was shot and seriously injured by four armed men in Sialkot, Punjab after investigating and disclosing corruption by municipal officers. 

The government continued to weaponize the law to silence critical media and weaken independent journalism in Pakistan, including through the use of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), the country’s cybercrime law, and the Pakistan criminal code

The government also put forward new proposals to empower government agencies with broad authority to silence critical views of government policies. The federal cabinet passed an amendment that empowers the FIA to prosecute anybody who spreads “rumors and false information against state institutions” on social media. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to seven years. The government also proposed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2023, which introduces a maximum five-year prison term and fine for anybody who publishes or shares information with the intent to “ridicule or scandalize” the military and judiciary. 

During this period, the government also enacted a number of measures to further censor the news and restrict press freedom. It blocked investigative news site FactFocus after it released a report on the wealth amassed by the chief of army staff.  It ordered an internet shutdown in the port city of Gwadar as protests led by the Haq Do Tehreek movement continued. Wikipedia was blocked after it refused to delete “blasphemous content.” The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority banned all media broadcasts of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recorded and live speeches. 



IPI monitors and collects data on press freedom violations in Pakistan as part of a cross-border project that brings together partner media outlets in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal to create public awareness about attacks on journalists and highlight the decline of press freedom across South Asia.