The media in Pakistan is not showing an accurate picture of critical issues facing the country. The reason, according to a special report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, is increasing instances of self censorship by journalists.The report, released earlier this week, also finds that the number of red lines that ought not to be crossed is higher than expected. These include not just the usual suspects: national security policies, civil-military ties, enforced disappearances, insurgency in Balochistan, Pashtun activism for basic rights and civil liberties and religious extremism, etc, but also issues with no apparent bearing on the high politics of state institutions. In this latter category, the CPJ report includes reporting on labour rights and peasants’ struggle for land ownership. It refers to the threats received by a Karachi-based journalist for covering labour-related malpractices of foreign brands. The journalist was told that reporting on labour rights is anti-state, the report says. Similarly, it documents the case of an Okara-based correspondent who was wrongly implicated in multiple terrorism cases for covering peasant protests in support of their claim over vast tracts of agrarian land held by the armed forces.While the report finds a drop in instances of violence against journalists, including murders, it correlates the finding to i) security agencies’ crackdown on terrorist outfits in western provinces and on militant wings of parties like the Muttahhida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and, ii) an unprecedented suppression of editorial autonomy across newspapers and private TV channels allegedly by elements within the security establishment.Based on interviews with senior editors in two leading English dailies and a bureau chief in a mainstream TV channel, besides correspondents based in conflict-ridden areas of Balochistan and Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, the report shows that journalists across media platforms are exercising greater caution, stifling on their own dissenting views and the other side of the story. The result is that objective, unbiased, and balanced journalism gives way to a one-side view of reality – a view endorsed by unelected state institutions or the militants, as the case maybe.The report also explains how the media industry is dealing with this wave of suppression that threatens the very foundations of the profession considered the fourth estate because of its ability to put checks and balances on the powerful. Referring to the coverage of the attack on senior TV anchor Hamid Mir and its aftermath, the report shows that the industry is deeply divided, and it wasn’t until July this year that the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) finally came up with a statement condemning press censorship.There is a ray of hope, however small it may appear at the moment. The report mentions mushrooming of self-help initiatives by former and working journalists. Among these are Whatsapp groups to keep tabs on colleagues for safety purposes and arrangements of security trainings by media non-profits like Freedom Network, Pakistan Press Foundation and Media Matters for Democracy.Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2018.