Deadly place for journalists
Chasing the truth is dangerous business in Pakistan — the world’s deadliest beat for journalists. This year, for the second year in a row, Pakistan has topped the list of the deadliest countries for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists that says in its year-end report that seven journalists were killed in Pakistan in 2011, while a total of 43 died around the world. Last year too, Pakistan was declared the world’s most dangerous country for journalists according to Reporters Without Borders, which said 16 journalists were killed in 14 months alone, with some of the worst of these excesses occurring in Balochistan. The causes of these deaths are assorted: some journalists are targeted by Taliban militants or Baloch insurgents; others die in suicide blasts while the hand of the security establishment is suspected in some deaths. Several reporters have also lost their lives to the vicious political wars of Karachi, with the year begining with the fatal shooting of 29-year-old journalist Wali Khan Babar on Jan 13. Lately, Geo TV’s prominent anchor, Hamid Mir, has circulated a detailed email message of threats he has been receiving and which he writes are related to recent shows on Geo TV in which he raised questions about the political role of the ISI.
In 2005 Hayatullah Khan, a reporter from Fata, went missing after he photographed a fragment of a US missile fired from an unmanned drone. He was found dead six months later. In 2008 a local reporter working for the Guardian on a story about extra-judicial detention was abducted and tortured. Last September Umar Cheema, an investigative reporter for The News, was abducted from Islamabad for six hours and tortured before being released. And finally, this June, Saleem Shahzad, a prominent Pakistani journalist who investigated links between the military and Al-Qaeda, was also found dead. While Shahzad’s death seemed to generate unprecedented uproar when it occurred, seven months later, the commission formed to investigate it has come up with nothing. It is shameful that Pakistan has yet again been called the deadliest country for journalists, especially in a year when political unrest around the world has been “unusually dangerous”. And yet, it is Pakistan where the dangers seem to be the highest. Are things expected to get any better? They can, but only if the public and media unreservedly condemn the unwarranted attacks and killings of media practitioners on account of exercising their duties, and if the government intensifies its action, indeed its duty, towards protecting journalists in order to enable them to do their work without fear of harassment, threats to their lives or death.
Source: The News