Those who mur­der, in­jure and as­sault jour­nal­ists are never pun­ished in Pak­istan

Daily Messenger - - FRONT PAGE -

KARACHI, Nov 1: re­port on safety of Pak­istani me­dia pro­fes­sion­als presents a bleak pic­ture of level of in­se­cu­rity faced by Pak­istani jour­nal­ists and calls of se­ri­ous ef­forts by gov­ern­ments and me­dia to change the present sit­u­a­tion where those that kill, in­jure, abduct and threaten jour­nal­ists are al­most never pun­ished.

The Re­port on Safety of Me­dia Work­ers re­leased by Pak­istan Press Foundation (PPF) on the In­ter­na­tional Day on Im­punity doc­u­ments that since 2001, 47 me­dia work­ers have been mur­dered, 164 in­jured, 88 as­saulted, 21 ab­ducted and 40 de­tained. In ad­di­tion 24 me­dia pro­fes­sion­als were died while cov­er­ing dan­ger­ous as­sign­ments. There have been con­vic­tions in only two cases out of 384 cases of vi­o­lence against me­dia.

In Pak­istan, jour­nal­ists are killed, un­justly de­tained, ab­ducted, beaten and threat­ened by law en­force­ment and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, mil­i­tants, tribal and feu­dal lords, as well as by reli­gious groups and po­lit­i­cal par­ties that claim to pro­mote democ­racy and the rule of law. Adding to the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion is the fact that the per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists and me­dia work­ers en­joy al­most ab­so­lute im­punity from pros­e­cu­tion in Pak­istan.

Be­cause of con­flicts and in­sur­gen­cies the num­ber of mur­ders and killings in the high­est in Balochis­tan, Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. Since 2001, 21 jour­nal­ists and me­dia work­ers were killed in Balochis­tan, 19 in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa, 9 in FATA and 15 in Sindh, 4 in Pun­jab and 3 in Is­lam­abad.

Threats and vi­o­lence have forced many jour­nal­ists to move from th­ese dan­ger zones and to leave the pro­fes­sion or to re­sort to self-cen­sor­ship, par­tic­u­larly in con­flict ar­eas. As a con­se­quence, news re­ports from con­flict ar­eas are based on press re­leases, not on ob­ser­va­tions by in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ists. Thus, new re­ports that are pub­lished or broad­cast lack cred­i­bil­ity and do not in­form the pub­lic in an ob­jec­tive man­ner.

The two con­vic­tions by courts were in Sindh for the mur­der of Daniel Pearl of Wall Street Jour­nal and Wali Babar of Geo Tele­vi­sion. In both the cases the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments se­ri­ously pe­rused the cases be­cause of pres­sure from the me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions of the mur­dered jour­nal­ists. The re­port thus rec­om­mends that crim­i­nal cases should not only be reg­is­tered but should also be prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated and pros­e­cuted against the per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lence against me­dia. The re­port also calls on me­dia it­self to take the lead in en­sur­ing safety of me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers and to en­sure long-term fol­low up of cases of as­sault on me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions and work­ers.

Apart from mur­ders and killings, the largest num­ber of cases of vi­o­lence against me­dia oc­curred in the prov­ince of Sindh. Out of a to­tal of 164 jour­nal­ists and me­dia work­ers in­jured and as­saulted since 2001, 91 were in Sindh. Sur­pris­ingly the sec­ond place in th­ese cat­e­gories with 70 as­saults was Is­lam­abad, which was largely due to the as­sault on large num­ber of me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers by sup­port­ers of Pak­istan Tehreek-i-In­saf (PTI) dur­ing the Dharna in 2014. Forty Eight me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers were in­jured and as­saulted in Pun­jab, 23 in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and 14 in Balochis­tan.

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