A United States based organisation, Committee to Protect Journalists, which helps journalists that have been forced into exile, as well as providing support and raising awareness, has released a report that places Syria on top of the list of countries where journalists are forced into exile due to threats to their lives. Pakistan has the dubious honour of being ranked 4th. Pakistan is amongst the company of Iraq, Somalia and Syria at the top of the list, and the point of concern is that the other three states are active warzones. Despite having an active democracy, a free – and often overzealous - media, and telephone and internet connectivity over most parts of the country Pakistan still ranks as one of the worst countries for journalism. While Syria has been the most deadly country for journalists for three consecutive years, with at least 83 killed in direct relation to their work since 2011, mostly by terror outfits, but in Pakistan the greatest threat to journalists does not emanate from extremists, but from elements within the state.

With the murder of Sabeen Mehmood and the cancellation of the Balochistan talks fresh in memory, it can be easily concluded that there is a definitive guideline of permitted topics that must be closely followed, and erring from them can bring the threat of violence. The military operations still are being conducted under a media blackout, with independent verification of facts presented by the military not possible, while military courts try, convict and execute “terrorists” all under the cover of secrecy. PEMRA is a loose cannon that goes around banning web pages on whim and the government fails to release documents that are meant to be viewed by the public. This environment of censorship and secrecy is not only detrimental to the development of an effective media- which is supposed to act as the watchdog of the state – it also is detrimental to the efforts of the state; it might be doing stellar work, yet without verification, their claims will be just that – claims.