After a senior Pakistani journalist asked questions from the country’s prime minister about freedom of expression, he was fired. Azam Chaudhry was expelled after he enquired about “tacit” restrictions that the Pakistani media faces. He said that he was fired hours after raising the questions during a press conference on June 30 at Punjab governor’s House during which Shehbaz Sharif was accompanied by two ministers- Ishaq Dar and Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Azam Chaudhry reportedly told the PM that the media is unable to function independently despite the ruling coalition parties, including PML(N) and PPP, supporting freedom of expression.
“The current period is the worst related to restrictions,” he told the prime minister, asking when and how the restrictions on the media will end. Shehbaz Sharif deflected the question and asked Azam Chaudhry to voice his concerns with the information minister.
“If you have something legitimate to say, please speak up,” he said.
Pakistan’s information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb refuted the journalist’s claims saying that he was never hired by PTV as a permanent or contract employee.
“I know Azam Chaudhry and am aware of his views but despite this, he was invited to [PM Shehbaz] presser and allowed to ask a question,” Marriyum Aurangzeb said adding that if the Shehbaz Sharif government had any problem with the journalist’s views, he would not have been invited to the press conference.
Azam Chaudhry is still part of the same panel at the state broadcaster, the minister said.