October 9, 2021

Bureau Report

Pakistani journalists have termed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two international journalists being of great significance with a clear message to powers around the globe who are trying to suppress the freedom of speech through might and coercion.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on October 8th awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia for their efforts in safeguarding freedom of expression.

Who are 2021 Nobel Peace laureates?

Muratov is editor-in-chief of the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has probed the matters of wrongdoing and corruption linked to the all-powerful Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ressa, 58, is the first Nobel Peace laureate from the Philippines. She heads Rappler, a digital media outlet co-founded in 2012 which has done some investigative stories into large-scale killings during a police campaign against drugs backed by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said that the award winning journalists are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions. She added that “free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.”

This is after 86 long years that journalists have been bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize. Last time it was conferred to German editor Carl von Ossietzky in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament programme.

Acknowledgement of all journalists working under repressive regimes

Senior journalist Matiullah Jan says it is a matter of great joy and pride that fellow journalists have been accorded with a global prize.

“It acknowledges the efforts of every journalist working under repressive regimes for their determination to speak truth to power,” he said, adding that the winning of the Peace Prize also signifies the importance of the role of journalists as guardians of human rights and rule of law in any society.

Jan also stated that this is also a message for those powers in Pakistan who are intriguing against press freedom and independent journalists, and that they are standing at the wrong side of the history.

Pakistan has been placed as the ninth-worst country on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Impunity Index 2020, with 15 unsolved murders of journalists. According to the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan ranks 145 out of 180 in press freedom in the world.

Journalists should do fact-based reporting

Nasim Zehra, senior journalist and current affairs host, says that there is a crisis of confidence between the ruling elites and the general public around the world.

“In today’s world, those who are in power have not been able to play their due role for society, and because of this gap the role of journalists has become really important. When journalists expose the powerful, it gives hope and courage to all of society to stand up for their rights.”

However, Zehra emphasized that those who are making the powerful elites answerable around the world should do their job with utmost responsibility, and that their journalism should be grounded in facts.

Kamal Siddiqi, director of the Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi and former editor of the Express Tribune, says Ressa and Muratov have worked under authoritarian regimes on those topics which “crossed the red line” in their respective countries.

“This sends a clear message to all journalists who are working under repressive regimes about the importance of their work for society, and this should be celebrated by all journalists,” Siddiqi held, adding that people are always quick to condemn journalists without knowing about the hardships they have to face to expose those who are sitting in power corridors


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