Free press under threat everywhere
In an atmosphere of ever-increasing proscription of media worldwide, there are some instances that just stand out. The string of attacks on journalists in Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt has left the press and broadcast media reeling under fear of being persecuted and hounded down for pursuit of truth. The latest in a series of mistreatment of journalists comes as Egypt sentences three Al-Jazeera English reporters to seven years of rigorous imprisonment in terrorism-related charges for writing in support of democracy and the former popularly-elected regime of Mohamed Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood. Castigating the present dictatorial regime under General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the journalists had filed ground reports that laid bare the brutal crackdown on the Brotherhood and its supporters, as they stuck to their guns and carried out an impartial reportage of the ongoing crisis in Egypt. This is not an isolated event as even in Pakistan, prominent journalists and columnists like Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi have been targeted in the past few months, with both narrowly escaping assassination attempts that killed their servicemen. The state of media remains a cause for concern as fearless reporters are facing expulsions from countries where repressive regimes are making it increasingly hard for a free and fair press to exist, alongside other democratic institutions. In Pakistan, newschannels like Geo TV have faced suspension of licence on one hand while receiving overt threats on cutting down on the criticism on the other. Without an impartial media, there could be no comprehensive and unbiased debate on any issue, and the growing trend of threatening journalists with dire consequences would only worsen the situation.