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Coronavirus
LOW Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
28,745
824hr
Pakistan Cases
1,285,631
37724hr
0.85% positivity
Sindh
476,017
Punjab
443,240
Balochistan
33,488
Islamabad
107,765
KPK
180,146

EDITORIAL: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) can do no more than lament the treatment meted out to journalists in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) - who are being incarcerated for no bigger crime than doing their jobs - and press authorities to release them, cease detaining and questioning journalists, and let media operate freely. Still, even though its protest hasn’t impressed anybody in Delhi, it’s not as if it would have gone unheard around the world. CPJ is, after all, a respected, trusted, non-profit, independent organisation with correspondents around the world and it’s not for nothing that it’s called Journalism’s Red Cross.

It also says a lot that while it urged India to “move quickly to improve its shameful record of harassing and detaining critical journalists in Jammu and Kashmir”, it didn’t fail to notice that such tactics signify “complete abandonment of India’s once-proud tradition of press freedom.” Indeed, it’s a fact that while the Modi administration has completely redefined India’s oppressive policy when it comes to Kashmir, its stranglehold on the country’s politics has also shocked its vibrant civil society into what can aptly be described as deafening silence. For there hasn’t been so much as a squeak out of India’s many liberals, barring a few odd voices of course, even as Hindutva inspired “cow vigilantes” have tortured and killed at will, the state has sidelined Muslims and other minorities with its citizenship law, and the entire demography of Kashmir is being changed right under their noses.

And considering how Delhi operates, fresh rounds of unrest in Occupied Kashmir were bound to trigger detention and arrests of journalists because their reporting threatened to expose the state’s many crimes against humanity there. That a number of them were picked up under trumped up charges like violating sections of the penal code pertaining to “knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse” and abetment is also no surprise since there’s never anything authentic to pin on reporters and correspondents who brave curfews and often tear gas, baton charges and even rubber and real bullets on occasion to put the spotlight on on-ground reality.

To see the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy resort to such oppression to keep important facts about a brutal occupation from the world is indeed a big shame. Also, the fact that much of the rest of the world turns a blind eye to India’s excesses simply because of the dollars and cents its large market stands to get them is a complete and utter travesty. Therefore, the present setting requires Delhi to clamp down on journalists more forcefully than ever before because 21st century technology and media-suffused environment enable them to transmit information in real time. And if too many people in the developed world get to know the truth about what is happening in Kashmir, and also elsewhere in India, then they’ll start questioning their leaders before voting for them and that might well spell the end of the special partnership some of the richest countries have had with India for quite a while simply because of human rights issues.

There’s also something to be said about the pressures journalists face as they go about their work. Clearly, incidents of intimidation of the press are not restricted to dictatorships but also extend to the most established democracies. Much of the time their suffering goes unnoticed. That is why it was pleasant news to see two journalists, from Russia and the Philippines, share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Hopefully, such developments, and the outrage some of the actions of some states, like India’s in Kashmir, will lead to the creation of an environment where journalists can do their work without having to look over their shoulders and the world will not be deprived of the truth of what is happening in places like Occupied Kashmir.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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