Pak’s ruling PTI weaponised ‘fake news’ to clamp down on criticism

Since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power in 2018, its government officials and ministers have often dismissed and labelled accurate news stories, which they disagree with, as “fake news”, Geo TV reported.

“Yet, overtime, the term “fake news” has been weaponised and used against Pakistani reporters and media outlets to clamp down on coverage government officials find disagreeable or critical,” it said.

Geo TV has compiled examples of reports the ruling party flagged as “fake news” but were actually not.

In October 2018, a dedicated Twitter account titled, @FakeNews_Buster, was created by the Pakistan Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the purpose of “exposing fake news”.

The account has repeatedly tagged news reports and informative tweets by Pakistan working journalists, accusing them of spreading disinformation, and in the process making them vulnerable to trolling and online abuse, the report said.

On Tuesday, as journalists from across the country were protesting a proposed law that seeks greater control of Pakistan’s independent media and to crackdown on freedom of speech, the Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry asked, in a tweet, how legislation to combat “fake news” could be against the media.