During a press briefing on World Press Freedom Day at the US State Department, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US government was aware of the restrictions imposed on media outlets and civil society in Pakistan, Geo News reported.
He said that the restrictions on freedom of expression undermine Pakistan’s image and its ability to progress.
Reportedly, he was answering a question by a Pakistani journalist about Pakistan being among those countries in the world still considered the most dangerous place for journalists.
Last year, many Pakistani journalists were killed, kidnapped, and tortured for exposing crime and corruption and criticising some of the government’s policies.
“Has the State Department ever taken up this issue in bilateral talks with the Pakistani authorities?” the journalist had questioned.
“The short answer is yes, we take this up in our engagements with Pakistani counterparts. Of course, this is also a feature of the annual Human Rights Reports that we put out, and, of course, we’re aware of significant restrictions on media outlets and civil society more broadly in Pakistan,” he said.
His remarks came after a report was released by Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, which showed that Pakistan slid from 145th position last year to 157th this year in the World Press Freedom Index.
The Secretary of State also termed free media the future of any nation, saying, “A vibrant free press and an informed citizenry are key for any nation and its future, including Pakistan.”
“[…] and I think these practices that we see undermine freedom of expression,” he added.
Blinken further said, “They undermine peaceful assembly. They undermine Pakistan’s image as well as its ability to progress. So it is something that comes up both in our direct engagements and in the work that we’re doing every day.”