When the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government announced freedom of press as one of its priorities on its mandate, it served as a moment of hope that this long neglected issue would finally be addressed. The challenges and adversaries, often including violence, that journalists face in their line of work is the worst-kept secret in Pakistan’s media industry, where even covering the attacks on the press can lead to further intimidation.

Clamping down on the issue does not stop tongues waggling about the challenges to freedom of press that are there on the surface for everyone to see. Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP), sometimes called “Journalism’s Red Cross”, released a report which showcased the decline of freedom of press in Pakistan. The report theorised that fear and intimidation in the journalism industry has seen an up-hike since the 2014 APS terrorist attack.

There have been some ups and downs in the realm of freedom of press. The past few years have seen a decline in deaths of journalists in their line of work, which has resulted in more courageous stories emerging. However, while fatalities may have decreased, the CJP has reported an increase in incidents of kidnapping, intimidation tactics and violence against journalists. In the last year especially, attacks against several media persons serve as haunting reminders of the dangers journalists face.

The government has taken a good initiative by attempting to create a more fair and free press, yet this journey will require many more steps than just non-politicising PTV. For a start, the government can provide at least stability to the media industry by releasing dues that have been unpaid for years. The journalistic community has high hopes of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. He will be looked to for his strategy to help the press cope with the intense pressure it is under.