One of the top anchors and journalists of Pakistani media is Matiullah Jan, who has been critical of the role of the military in government and politics. He also does not miss criticizing the Supreme Court, which a large section of the Pakistani media considers an independent institution of the state.
In the second week of October, Matiullah was dismissed by Time News. Vakti News is a private news channel, in which Matiullah was doing the prime time talk show “Apna Apne Gireban” for the last 6 years. He informed himself of his job when his talk show On Air was airing. He tweeted- “I got an order to leave after 6 years with Vakta News.”
In the Pakistani media, the removal of Matiullah is being seen as the last point of the long process in which the army and the PTI government have suppressed the Pakistani media. This process also included the closure of government subsidies, which the government used to give to media houses in the form of advertisements.
From 1970, the Pakistani government subsidized them by paying crores of rupees to media houses as advertisements. The actual amount spent during this period is a secret between the owners of media houses and the governments. However, this funding was considered sufficient to make media houses commercially competent.
Some Financial Issues
“The financial crisis of news institutions has been created by the army. After the PTI government came to power, the situation has worsened and since then the government has stopped giving its advertisements to media houses. ”The owner of a small newspaper said on condition of not revealing his identity. He also said that soon he will close his newspaper because he is running commercially in deficit.
On October 17, 2018, the day Matiullah was taken out of the news, a delegation of Pakistani media owners held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office, Islamabad. And asked them to revisit the policy of stopped advertising of media houses.
According to a government insider, every media owner tried to persuade Prime Minister Imran Khan to revive the government subsidy that the news agencies get. Khan listened to everyone but he refused to release advertisements to media houses. On the contrary, he issued a suggestion that the salaries of the anchors who are being given lakhs of rupees should be cut.
There was no talk on the subject of undeclared censorship of the media in the meeting. Neither Imran Khan nor the owners of media houses raised the issue of criticism in the media of the “role in army politics”. The issue was dropped for a second meeting, which was with the military’s media media department, commonly known as the Inter-State Public Relations Directorate (ISPR). Its head is a major general. ISPR has an important role in media management carried out by Pakistan State Machinery. Many journalists have accused the ISPR of pressuring journalists and reporters criticizing the “role in army politics” to get them working against their will.
The strength that ISPR has gained in Pakistan can only be gauged from the fact that Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary was summoned in a meeting between the owners of media houses and ISPR chief Major General Asif Ghafoor. People inside said that the army officials specifically said that “criticism of the army will not be accepted in future.” Army officials made it clear to Don Group owner Hamid Haroon that it was further unacceptable for his newspaper to show “Kashmiri Freedom Fighters” as “rebels” and “extremists”.
Neither the government nor the army gave any information about this meeting to the general public. The media owner is not ready to accept that he went to the Prime Minister to talk about the restoration of his advertising revenue. The only indication that suggests subsidies were discussed in the meeting is the removal of Matiullah Jan and a senior anchor Murtaza Solangi from their channels within 24 hours. This crisis has been seen in the media for the last three months, ever since he has been sacking his employees or cutting the salary of his senior staff.
However, with the removal of Matiullah, a big debate has arisen in the media that both the army and the government have gone out of the stranglehold of independent media. At the time, the news has not given any clear reason for his removal. But Matiullah is clear about the reason that the army’s mission is to target independent journalists. Speaking to Newslaundry, he said- “It is connected to financial crisis, which the media is grappling with.” But this is more a case of criminalization of political, in which the army has targeted me. There are some other journalists who have been declared as “non-personal persons” in their press conferences, ie an unwanted person in their own country. ”
Suppressing the capital of the media is only one part of this campaign. The direct threats to journalists in Pakistan have not been heard yet in Pakistan. Says Matiullah, “A few months ago, the army issued an alert for some journalists, including him. It said that his life was threatened by terrorists. “He adds,” I don’t think it was a warning, it directly
There was a direct threat
Matiullah is not the only person to make such a complaint. Another senior journalist and anchor, Talat Hussain, says that the army used to work on pressurizing journalists indirectly. Talat Hussain is also critical of the role of the army, which is alleged to have rigged the PTI to power in the last parliamentary election.
“Now the management of my channel is telling me that if you don’t worry about your job then you should take care of the jobs of hundreds of colleagues whose jobs will be lost due to the closure of the channel,” Talat Hussain recently told his Said this in a video blog.
Between the media houses struggling with deep financial crisis and the state power that came out to control free voices, the future of Pakistani media seems hopeless.