President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveying his ‘deep concern’ over the rising trend of harassment and torture of journalists and media persons. The president, referring to the recent incidents of violence against journalists, said such events reflected a mindset of intolerance having negative repercussions both for the future of democracy as well as freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan and Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Such actions also come under international focus and tarnish the image of our country,” he remarked. The president noted with concern that Pakistan stood at 157th position in the Freedom of Press Index-2022, which was very low and said the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in their reports had attributed harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against journalists as the main reasons for the dismal position of Pakistan in the said index. He also referred to the reports of the Committee to Protect the Journalists (CPJ) and HRW, wherein they had reported that 96 journalists had been killed in Pakistan from 1992 to 2022 and alleged that the journalists in Pakistan were subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism against the powerful elements of the state. The president mentioned a few important cases of reputed journalists and observed that the recent actions being taken against them undermined the efforts of the judiciary. He noted that when in one jurisdiction relief was provided, cases were filed in another jurisdiction with mala fide intention to continue the harassment. The president emphasized that the actions or inactions of previous governments should not be used as a ruse to repeat similar violations and such a stance was both untenable and a lame excuse. This comparison, he said, instead of taking the country in a progressive and positive direction would become a justification to do worse in retaliation. President Alvi stressed that Pakistan being a democratic country, should not allow oppression and persecution of intelligentsia and journalists. He said the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) might be directed to ensure the protection of journalists and media persons. The politicians across the aisle should also play their role to save the journalists from the highhandedness of unknown and unscrupulous elements, he urged. The president asked the prime minister to keep him informed of the remedial actions taken by him as per Article 46 of the Constitution.