Press freedom in Pakistan has deadly consequences

05/03/2014 5:59 PM

05/03/2014 5:59 PM

Just four months into the new year, six Pakistani journalists have been killed, putting 2014 on track to become one of the most deadly years for reporters in Pakistan. Two reporters who have survived recent attacks have chilling stories to tell. Raza Rumi, a senior television anchor, was attacked while in his car; the assailants killed his driver. He fled from Pakistan and is now in Washington, D.C. “It has been three weeks of surreal moments,” Rumi said by email last week. “I did not know that I would turn into a subject of all that I have been writing against: using violence to suppress dissent, terrorizing the media workers and muzzling free speech.” Hamid Mir, a news anchor and political talk show host, was also attacked while in his car and is recovering after being hit by multiple bullets. According to data compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders — both nonprofit organizations aim to protect and support global press freedom — more than 1,530 journalists have been killed around the world since 1992. Iraq topped the list with 218 journalists killed; the Philippines was second with 112, followed by Pakistan with 87. As a Pakistani journalist, on a fellowship this year in the United States, I am concerned about the effects of this news on press freedom in my home country. “Pakistani journalists are under attack from all sides — militant insurgents, the military and intelligence services, drug lords, local criminal gangs, just to name a few,” Robert Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator for CPJ, told me by email. Gibran Peshimam, political editor for my newspaper, The Express Tribune, a publishing partner of International New York Times, also observed: “The current violence and omnipresent threat to their lives is unprecedented. It is clichéd to say that journalists are not safe in Pakistan. It is, however, important to note that it is getting more unsafe by the day. And that’s the troubling part.” Peshimam is right to worry about how the violence will affect Pakistan media, because journalists are facing a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is the government. After Mir was shot, the government tried to revoke the license of his station, Geo TV, because it questioned the role of the military in the attack. Meanwhile, militants tell journalists “a bullet has been chosen for you.” Critics have accused Pakistan’s top spy agency — Inter Services Intelligence — of harassing and even killing at least one journalist, though ISI and the military have denied the accusations. Journalists also have been the target of TehreekeTaliban Pakistan and other extremists groups. TTP has publicly taken responsibility for the deaths of several journalists in Pakistan. These recent attacks signal that the government has not been able to reverse the country’s dreadful record of anti-press violence, despite promises to do so, said Sumit Galhotra, CPJ Asia Program researcher. One issue that needs to be addressed is regulation of content. Mohsin Leghari, an independent lawmaker from the Pakistan Senate, said that freedom of the press is a great thing, but it has to be exercised with responsibility. He says the electronic media in Pakistan have grown at a phenomenal pace: “The rating war and breaking news phenomena have compromised the content in Pakistan.” The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority must be empowered and equipped to monitor the more than 100 private television channels now operating at the moment, far more than it’s able to do, according to estimates. The government and media owners must work together to find a balance in legislation that would ensure freedom of the press while also supporting the state’s interests. But Rumi, who recently talked about his experience on National Public Radio, said he is “appalled at the way media is divided and state is unable to enforce its writ.” If the government can amend existing press laws by setting new and reasonable standards for all public and private broadcasters and publishers, it could help prevent the loss of more journalists’ lives. Journalists who have been killed in Pakistan since 1994
Journalist News Outlet Where they died Year
Shahzad Iqbal Samma TV Mianwali, Pakistan 2014
Muhammad Khalid Express TV Karachi, Pakistan 2014
Muhammad Ashraf Express TV Karachi, Pakistan 2014
Waqas Aziz Express TV Karachi, Pakistan 2014
Haroon Ahmed Express TV Rawalpindi, Pakistan 2014
Shah Dar Aab Tak TV Larkana, Pakistan 2014
Aslam Durrani Daily Pakistan Peshawar, Pakistan 2013
Ayub Khattak Karak Times Karak, Pakistan 2013
Mehmood Ahmed Afridi Daily Intikhab Kalat, Pakistan 2013
Malik Mumtaz Geo TV Miramshah, Pakistan 2013
Mohammad Iqbal News Network International Quetta, Pakistan 2013
Saifur Rehma Samma TV Quetta, Pakistan 2013
Imran Shaikh Samma TV Quetta, Pakistan 2013
Razaq Baloch Daily Tawar Karachi, Pakistan 2013
Saqib Khan Daily Ummat Karachi, Pakistan 2012
Rehmatullah Abid Dunya TV Pangur, Pakistan 2012
Mushtaq Khand Dharti TV Khairpur, Pakistan 2012
Haq Baloch ARY TV Khuzdar, Pakistan 2012
Qadir Hajizai Vash TV Quetta, Pakistan 2012
Razaq Gul Express TV Turbat, Pakistan 2012
Aurangzaib Tunio Kawish TV Lalu Ranwak, Pakistan 2012
Tariq Kamal Freelancer Karachi, Pakistan 2012
Mukkaram Khan Dunya TV/Freelancer Shabqadar, Pakistan 2012
Mohammad Amir ARY TV Peshawar, Pakistan 2012
Murtaza Razvi Daily Dawn Karachi, Pakistan 2012
Javed Naseer Rind Daily Tawar Khuzdar, Pakistan 2011
Faisal Qureshi The London Post Lahore, Pakistan 2011
Shafiullah Khan The News International Rawalpindi, Pakistan 2011
Abid Naveed Akbar-e-Khyber Peshawar, Pakistan 2011
Syed Saleem Shahzad Asia Times Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan 2011
Nasrullah Afridi Daily Mashriq Peshawar, Pakistan 2011
Zaman Ali Extra News Karachi, Pakistan 2011
Wali Babar Geo TV Karachi, Pakistan 2011
Salman Taseer Business Plus Islamabad, Pakistan 2011
Munir Shakir Online News Network Khuzdar, Pakistan 2011
Abdoost Rind Freelancer Turbat, Pakistan 2011
Ilyas Nizzar Darwanth Pidark Pakistan 2011
Abdul Wahab Express TV Ghalania, Pakistan 2010
Pervez Khan Waqat TV Mohmand Agency, Pakistan 2010
Abdul Hameed Hayatan Daily Tawar Karachi, Pakistan 2010
Misri Khan Daily Mashriq Hangu, Pakistan 2010
Ejaz Raisini Samma TV Quetta, Pakistan 2010
Muhammad Sarwar Aaj TV Quetta, Pakistan 2010
Faiz Muhammad Sasoli Independent News Pakistan Khuzdar, Pakistan 2010
Ghulam Rasool Birhamani Daily Sindhu Newspaper Hyederabad, Pakistan 2010
Azmat Ali Bangash Samma TV Orakzai, Pakistan 2010
Malik Arif Samma TV Quetta, Pakistan 2010
Ashiq Ali Mangi Mehran TV Khairpur, Pakistan 2010
Ejazul Haq City 42 TV Lahore Lahore, Pakistan 2010
Mehood Chandio Daily Awaz Mirpur Khas, Pakistan 2010
Lala Hameed Baloch Daily Intikhab Turbat, Pakistan 2010
Janullah Hashimzada Freelancer Jamrud, Pakistan 2009
Wasi Ahmed Daily Azadi Turbat, Pakistan 2009
Musa Khankhel Geo TV Swat, Pakistan 2009
Muhammad Imran Express TV Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan 2009
Tahir Imran Freelancer Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan 2009
Mian Iqbal Shah Freelancer Peshawar, Pakistan 2009
Siddiq Bacha Khan Aaj TV Mardan Pakistan 2009
Raja Asad Hameed The Nation Rawalpindi, Pakistan 2009
Abdul Razaq Johra Royal TV Punjab, Pakistan 2008
Abdul Aziz Daily Azadi Swat, Pakistan 2008
Muhammad Ibrahim Express TV Khar, Pakistan 2008
Sirajuddin The Nation Mingora, Pakistan 2008
Chishti Mujahid Akhbar-e-Jehan Quetta, Pakistan 2008
Khadim Sheikh Sindh TV Hub, Pakistan 2008
Zubair Ahmed Mujahid Daily Jang Mirpur Khas, Pakistan 2007
Muhammad Arif ARY TV Karachi, Pakistan 2007
Javed Khan Daily Markaz Islamabad, Pakistan 2007
Noor Hakim Daily Pakistan Bajur, Pakistan 2007
Mehboob Khan Freelancer Charsada, Pakistan 2007
Nisar Solangi Daily Khabroon Karachi, Pakistan 2007
Hayatullah Khan Daily Ausaf Miramshah, Pakistan 2006
Munir Sangi Kawish TV Larkana, Pakistan 2006
Muhammad Ismail Press Pakistan International Islamabad, Pakistan 2006
Allah Noor Khyber TV Wana, Pakistan 2005
Amir Nawab Frontier Post Wana, Pakistan 2005
Sajjad Tanoli Daily Shumal Mansehra, Pakistan 2004
Fazl Wahab Freelancer Mingora, Pakistan 2003
Shahid Somorrow Daily Kawish Kandhkot, Pakistan 2002
Daniel Pearl The Wall Street Journal Karachi, Pakistan 2002
Asadullah Freelancer Karachi, Pakistan 2001
Sufi Muhamad Daily Ummat Badin, Pakistan 2000
Zulfiqar Memon The Nation Islamabad, Pakistan 1999
Carlos Mavroleon Freelancer Peshawar, Pakistan 1998
Z.A Shahid Daily Khabrain Lahore, Pakistan 1997
Muhammad Samdani Warsi Daily Parcham Karachi, Pakistan 1994
Muhammad Salahuddin Daily Takbeer Karachi, Pakistan 1994

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