Misinformation and Media
Angelique van der Burgh
Global Human Rights Defence
In February 2024, Pakistan will be holding its general elections to replace the Parliament, which dissolved in August of 2023. Pakistan’s political climate has been turbulent since the dissolution in August, with the arrest of Imran Khan, national protests, and an increase in anti-state violence . Thus, the preparation for, and elections themselves take place within a politically insecure environment. Most recently, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has been facing upheaval and criticism from the media. Firstly, multiple journalists have accused the PTI of censoring them in their reporting of the preparations for elections and candidates . For example, the journalists were asked to avoid using the PTI flag or mentioning a candidate's affiliation or backing from the PTI party. By doing so, the candidates appeared to be running independently, and the public was therefore not informed of their connections to the PTI party, or ideology. The censorship of the media not only limits journalists and their ability to report but also strongly impedes the rights of citizens to information regarding candidates and elections. Secondly, the elections are suffering from misinformation about the PTI candidates. PTI officials have claimed a fake website was launched that mimics the PTI website and is providing incorrect information about their candidate lists . Thus, the elections suffer from misinformation and censorship, limiting a voter's ability to an informed decision in free and fair elections.
The Pakistani government and news sources have taken action to combat the misinformation around the elections. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has launched a Whatsapp channel to provide voters with accurate information . Additionally, Geo.tv has published a guide on the elections. The guide provides information on who is eligible to vote, and how the voting process works . The Pakistani government and media are taking measures to battle the unfortunate misinformation around the upcoming 2024 elections.
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