Journalists denied entry into tribal area
On June 13, 2004, the political administration of Khyber Agency, in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), denied entry into the area to a group of Peshawar reporters. The journalists wanted to cover a tribal Jirga (council of tribal elders) that was protesting the ongoing military operations in the areas bordering on Afghanistan.
The Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Khyber Agency, had organized the Jirga to condemn the military operations and express solidarity with South Waziristan Agency tribesmen who are suffering due to the economic sanctions imposed on them by the government.
According to press reports, with the help of a contingent of paramilitary Khasadar forces, Roshan Mehsud, a local representative of the administration, stopped media personnel from entering the territorial limits of the tribal area.
When Mehsud was told that his actions were tantamount to creating hurdles in the way of journalism, he said the governor had imposed a ban on the entry of reporters to cover any event inside the tribal area. “If you get permission from the governor’s FATA secretariat, then you will be allowed [in] for the coverage of the tribal Jirga,” he told reporters.
Mehsud threatened to use force against reporters who tried to enter the tribal area. “It is my authority to allow or disallow anyone entry to the tribal agency, ” he said. The reporters subsequently returned to Peshawar.
Ibrahim Khan, secretary general of the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ), Sharif Mohmand, president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (APNEC), and Muhammad Riaz Khan, president of the Peshawar Press Club, condemned the action and termed it an attempt to gag the press. They asked the government to remove restrictions on reporters and allow them to cover events in the tribal areas.