Mehreen Zahra-Malik is Senior Editor for Arab News, the largest English language newspaper in the Middle East. This isn’t the only accolade she has to her name, she has previously worked as a staff correspondent at Reuters and as Assistant Editor at The News, one of Pakistan’s largest English language daily newspapers. Her reportage and opinion have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The New Republic and other Pakistani and international publications.
“Media censorship is a painfully familiar story in Pakistan but perhaps what is new right now is that the attempt to silence critical voices is not just being made by the military, which has a known history of heavy handedness towards journalists and descent, but also by a democratically elected government,” states Malik.
“That is the truly dangerous element of this round of censorship: that we have not seen such a concerted, sustained attack on press freedom before under a civilian government. It’s unprecedented.
Social media is being policed like never before. People are being called traitors or being picked up for having an opinion the state doesn’t like. Entire newspapers and TV channels can be made to disappear from our doorsteps or TV screens without a squeak from the government in support of journalists. And even when there is no boot on our necks, the fear of one runs so deep that we are all silencing ourselves everyday. Whether it’s the stories we decide not to write as reporters or the ones our editors are no more interested in publishing; whether it’s the line we erase from an opinion piece, or the commentary we spike altogether, we are constantly self-muzzling now out of fear of a press-bullying military and government.