Protesting against the intimidation of media houses and journalists, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and a mobilized civil society have joined in a much-needed countrywide strike against the disruption of Dawns transmission mediums.

The media stands to be the quintessential mode of communication for the electorate. A free and judicious media coveys political narratives without discrimination and allows analytical evaluation of such narratives for the unbiased assimilation of the public. When elements within the deep state and influential political lobbyists seek to reaffirm the status-quo through gagging the free press, the civil society must take a stand for it is the right of the electoral body to have unobstructed access to a factual representation of the socio-political realisms, this close to the voting process.

With elections a hair’s breadth away, such selective gagging of the media stands to strategically shade a true democratic election process. The constitutionally mandated freedom of the press is essential to allow an even playing field to all the contenders and to highlight the inherent discrepancies that seek to cloud the election. Especially at this pivotal junction, when the democratic government is in the process of a turnover, a free media holds the representatives accountable to their pledges and past legacies, countering conspiracy theories, misrepresentation and empty rhetoric. The mandated transparency of the media is crucial in streamlining the facts from the barrage of misinformation and political verbiage that comes with the frenzy leading up to the polls.

Tactics seeking to blackout pivotal political discourses, and mainstreaming choice political party narratives are tantamount to calculated rigging of the electoral process. In lieu of the independent press, TV talk shows- that peddle biased and bigoted views to be imbibed and recited by the general public- have been promoted as the new medium to influence the voter’s opinion. Such dissemination and regurgitation of of a charted political trope can be assumed, with PTI getting the lion’s share of media exposure, and a buffeted PML-N largely represented through a criminal lens. With the lens resolutely focused on the theatrical exchange between the two parties, other mainstream contenders- like the PPP have been curiously left bereft of coverage and alternative platforms such as the Awami Workers Party, and independent voices like Jibran Nasir, have been customarily sidelined.

Intimidating the media seeks to disseminate selective information, and construct an artificial electoral process with the façade of democracy. The coercion of media in Pakistan should be challenged as it will only result in compromising the public and national interest while maintaining the de facto status-quo.