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Five Pakistani Anchors Who Defied Censorship In 2019

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The year of 2019 saw increasing curbs on media with TV programs censored, press conferences prohibited, and newspapers’ circulation stopped. The media has faced an ever-increasing amount of restrictions, while people have had their right to information and expression curtailed. In these circumstances, it is important to give due recognition to those journalists who have not only stood their ground in this era of censorship, but have through their journalism tried to protect the people’s right to information in the year 2019.

Asma Shirazi

Currently the host of ‘Faisla Ap Ka’, Pakistan’s first woman war correspondent, Asma Shirazi, also has the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism to her name. The award recognises those who fight for freedom of information. Asma getting recognition for fighting for freedom of information is well-deserved, for she was the one who did an interview of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazulur Rehman during the Azadi March when Maulana was not receiving the favour of coverage. She also interviewed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, when he returned to Pakistan to offer arrest, an interview which was not aired.

Adil Shahzeb

Adil Shahzeb presents the current affairs show, ‘Barri Baat’ at Hum News. He is known for discussing those topics on his show, which are considered sensitive enough to not be discussed by mainstream media. An example of this is when Adil covered the death of Arman Luni, a Pashtun activist who had allegedly been murdered extra-judicially at the hands of police. Adil was the first one to give Arman’s sister the opportunity to come talk about her brother’s death.

Shahzeb Khanzada

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‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’ is a popular current affairs talk show, and its host, Shahzeb Khanzada, is famous for piercing line of inquiry and for being a strong, bold journalist. He conducts his shows aided by extensive research, and often entraps his guests with his substantial knowledge on the matter at hand. Moreover, his ability to not back down when interviewees try to evade talking about an issue or beat around the bush, makes him popular among those who strive to make those in power answerable to the people.

Najam Sethi

Najam Sethi is one of the favourites of prime-time television watchers. His way of critique and well-grounded analysis is liked by many. Moreover, his knowledge of the inner happenings in the corridors of power, which he credits to his ‘chiriya’, is what makes him one of the most listened-to journalists. His ‘Najam Sethi Show’ on channel 24, which people frequently tuned in for an unbiased and uncensored commentary on current affairs, was banned by PEMRA and taken off air after he reported about a tiff between Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi. Yet, Sethi continues his journey to keep the public aware and make them think about politics in a nuanced manner with his show, Sethi Say Sawal, on Youtube.

Amber Rahim Shamsi

Amber Rahim Shamsi, winner of the Champion of Change Award. hosts the show ‘Sawal’ at Samaa TV. Her journalistic endeavours have not only involved criticism against the government, but also the powers that be. Her programmes involve discussions on topics that do not receive coverage in the mainstream. She recently gave due coverage to the abduction of human rights activist working on missing persons, Colonel (r) Inam, whose disappearance has not been the focus of much of mainstream media. Amber has also frequently highlighted threats to journalism, and her criticism of powers that be, is what sets her apart from the rest.

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