Concern over charges against journalists and political commentators in Pakistan

Concern over charges against journalists and political commentators in Pakistan
Pakistani photojournalists at a demonstration to mark World Press Freedom Day in Lahore. Source: ©Arif Ali/AFP via Al Jazeera.


Julija Stavar

Pakistan Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

After the arrest of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the following violent clashes between security forces and his supporters, several journalists and political commentators have been charged with sedition, and for inciting violence against government buildings and the army. The journalist are: former newspaper editor Shaheen Sehbai, political commentators Wajahat Saeed Khan, Moeed Pirzada, Sabir Shakir, two former army officers that are now YouTubers Adil Raja and Syed Haider Raza Mehdi, and Syed Akbar Hussain (Hussain, 2023). Most of them criticised the government crackdown on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. 

Moreover, in the past month, other journalists have been reported missing, and the Pakistani media regulatory body restricted news channels from giving airtime to “hate mongers, rioters, their facilitators and perpetrators” (Hussain, 2023). Although they have not mentioned Imran Khan and his party directly, his speeches and statements have been banned on television channels since March already (Hussain, 2023). Different rights and media watchdogs have expressed extreme concern over the occurrences (Hussain, 2023). Amnesty International stated that the charges with offences against the state and anti-terror laws can be seen as a violation of the right to freedom of expression, if they are used to silence commentators and journalists (Hussain, 2023). Reporters Without Borders also raised its concerns, saying that this move is to intimidate journalists into silence (Hussain, 2023). 

Sources and further readings:

Hussain, A. (2023, June 16). Rights, press bodies slam Pakistan crackdown on ‘critical voices’. Al Jazeera. Retrieved June 16, 2023, from