Islamabad, May 3, 2019: The control over electronic media as well as online media has been increasingly damaging the independent and ethical journalism in Pakistan. This is evident from the several globally known rankings, which should be a major cause of concern for democracy in the country. Quite a few TV channels and newspapers were forced to shut down their operations in the past year due to financial constraint as they lost most of their viewers due to controls and self-censorship.
With increasing controls and silencing of mainstream media, the spaces for free expression and opinion are rapidly shrinking. On social media, the activities of journalists, bloggers and writers are being surveilled and targeted through cyber armies, which often result in self-censorship.
As a technology and human rights organization, Bytes for All always believed that vibrant and diverse media is the foundation of a strong democracy, development and social justice. Media Freedoms can only be ensured by ending the climate of fear, intimidation and overpowering the culture of impunity for crimes against independent media in the country.
To this end, Pakvoices.pk, a community media initiative has launched the Association of All Pakistan Citizen Journalists (AAPCJ) for citizen journalists and practitioners. AAPCJ’s main aim is to promote alternative media spaces in the country and to further the cause of freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly in online spaces.
We strongly believe that free press (online/offline) strengthens democracy by promoting transparency in governance. It also helps citizens participation in key decision-making processes. Ending information darkness from the remote regions and geographic no-go areas for media reporting in the country should be the task of urgent priority for the federal and provincial governments. Only the free flow of information, without any obstacles, will increase inclusive, open and equal development opportunities for all the citizens in Pakistan.
On this 3rd May, we resolve to continue working for the promotion of citizen journalism in the country by providing capacity building programs, platforms of protection and strengthening spaces for free expression and opinion for the larger good of the Pakistani people.