Govt urged to protect journalists
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Monday condemned the murder of a journalist in Khuzdar and abduction of another in the North Waziristan tribal region and called upon the authorities to take meaningful measures to effectively address threats to journalists’ safety and end impunity for violence against them.
In a statement, the Commission said: “The HRCP is alarmed at the murder of journalist Munir Shakir in Khuzdar, the fourth killing of a journalist in the district in the last 12 months. He was shot dead by two armed men riding a motorcycle.
Equally disturbing is the abduction of another journalist, Rehmatullah Darpakhel, from Miranshah in North Waziristan on Aug 11. No-one has claimed responsibility for either incident and the motives of the culprits also remain unclear.
It is a matter of grave concern that despite escalating violence against journalists, including several murders, the government has failed to take effective measures to safeguard their lives.
There is a growing sense of insecurity among media persons who increasingly interpret each attack on journalists as a warning to others to “behave.”
Over two dozen journalists from North Waziristan, who are members of the Tribal Union of Journalists, are so fearful for their lives that they are reported to be considering quitting the profession.
The HRCP believes that the sharp rise in killings and other forms of violence against journalists is linked directly to the fact that in almost all cases in the last few years where journalists have been killed or attacked on account of their work the culprits remain unidentified and unpunished.
The HRCP urges the authorities to investigate Munir Shakir’s killing to identify and prosecute his killers, and take immediate steps to ensure the safe recovery of Rehmatullah.
The government must do all it can to make certain that Rehmatullah’s abduction does not end in an unfortunate manner as did Hayatullah KhanÂ’s, another journalist from North Waziristan who was abducted in December 2005 and whose bulled-riddled body was found six months later.
It is disconcerting that findings of a probe into Hayatullah’s death by a judge of the high court are yet to be made public.
The HRCP calls upon the government to respond through effective action and not mere words in the next few days, sending a strong message to the mischief makers that it would no longer stand by as a mere spectator as journalists are killed and snatched.”