ON Monday, the whole world observed World Press Freedom Day, as resolved first by UNESCO in 1991, and the UN General Assembly in 1993. In the 16 years after that, 685 journalists have been killed, reflecting the efforts of those who wish to silence the press, and the need to mark the need for freedom of press. Actually, freedom of press is a specific form of the more general freedom of expression, but it is particularly needed to make a truly democratic society. It is not for nothing that the press is known as the Fourth Estate, and the government of a country has often thought its main problem has been the exposure it receives in the press. This is a wrong-headed analysis, based on its attempt to cover up its own misdeeds, without which it would not receive unfavourable coverage. This inability to realise that its own misdeeds cannot be protected by the press, is responsible for the conflicts between the government and press in Pakistan. Unrealistic government expectations are behind this, and it was noticeable that those who loudly preach the freedom of press while in the opposition, and who depend entirely on the press for their survival and to pass their message on to their followers, are angered by the press when they come to power. As such, the Pakistani press has been left to its own devices in its prolonged struggle to achieve freedom, with the opposition only latching on to freedom of press issues as opposition issues meant to do down the government, not win the press any freedom. The progress of press freedom has been rendered complicated in Pakistan by the repeated bouts of military rule. By their very nature, military dictators are averse to criticism, and though they may make claims of granting press freedom, as did the Musharraf regime, they are even more repressive than elected governments. The press cannot afford to rest on its laurels, and every day represents a fresh challenge. The government should take into account the ideals behind World Press Freedom Day in its dealings with the press, and should remember that any bad press it receives is because of underlying misdeeds and mistakes. If the country is suffering all sorts of misfortune, it was the government which was elected to solve the problems arising, not the press. However, the press will continue to exercise its hard-won right to expose those problems, without fear or favour, and without worrying about who caused them. That right was given by no one on a plate, and the press will continue to do its duty, which is to provide accurate and timely information to the electorate.