THE significance of the Panama Papers hearings in the Supreme Court is enormous. Potentially at stake is nothing less than the political future of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the strengthening of the democratic order in the country. The court is moving ahead sensibly and determinedly, the cacophony of competing political interests being expressed before it notwithstanding. Regrettably, sections of the media are compounding the challenges for the court with a kind of coverage of the Panama Papers hearings that in some cases can be seen as attempting to influence the court and prejudging the outcome of the hearing. Freedom of speech, especially in the news media, is a critical part of a democratic order — no state or society can plausibly lay claim to being democratic if speech itself is curtailed. This newspaper has and will continue to robustly defend the interests and rights of a free media.