Media a victim of terrorism -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media a victim of terrorism

World has become extremely insecure while some professions are directly in the line of fire. Reporting from conflict zone is exclusively a task to cost life. In each incident of terrorism, media men are facing certain lethal hits. Exposure to abuses like antagonism, restrictions, bars or censorship are expected but on duty media men has to face physical harshness due to spite of terror as reporting the ongoing wars is most risky job in the world. State of media in Pakistan is equally awful and alarming as mayhem is on rise due to growing incidents of terrorism. Media persons either reporting or filming has suffered some fatal circumstances. Coverage from a battlefield of local or national conflicts is challenging duty for a journalist due to plenty of risks to life. In recent history, media is sufferer of misery of the terrorism that jolted the nation. Freedom of media is now more arguing for protection to perform professional duties. Safety and security of journalists are equally vital for effective reporting of truth from sensitive areas. During analyzes of latest incidents, a horrible fact reveals that media is ultimate victim of terrorism. It suffered causalities, injuries in almost every incident of terrorism. It underlines the plight of a reporter covering the bloodshed and may face mayhem in spite he knows the sensitivity of threats to him.

Recently August 08, Journalist Abdul Aziz, 32 was killed during a security forces’ attack on a Taliban hideout in Swat, two days after he was allegedly abducted by militants. He was working for Daily Azadi and Daily Khabarkar as correspondent in Matta Tehsil; was in custody of a group of Taliban in a private jail but was killed when a jet fighter pounded a militant compound where the ill-fated journalist was detained. A fellow journalist reported his death, “He paid the price for his support to security forces but they could not recover him safely.” In Dera Ismail Khan, a few journalists sustained injures in a suicidal blast as they were present in the hospital in connection with the killing of a activist, hurt journalists belong to local TV channels and foreign news agency. It shows the failure of government institutions to adopt a practical plan for the security to save lives during operations against hideouts or to maintain order after deadly acts. In May-08, Journalist Muhammad Ibrahim, a correspondent for TV channel Express News in Khar was gunned down in the Bajaur tribal region after he interviewed Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar, while attackers took away his video camera and motorcycle. Clue to fix culprits will never be possible in war zone where too many groups are engaged in fighting against each other; ultimately case will be shelved like Journalist Hayatullah’s murder in mysterious circumstances happened in tribal areas, unfortunately same agony of fate also gripped his wife to death in a blast.

While in March-08, Journalist Siraj Uddin was also a victim of suicidal attack. He was a correspondent of the English-language newspaper “The Nation”, was one of at least 40 people who were killed in a suicidal blast at the funeral of a slain police officer in Mingora, a city in the troubled Swat valley of the North-West Frontier Province.

He embraced martyrdom while performing his duty to cover the incident of funeral prayer of victims of a blast, where mourners’ fell prey to another blast. In other incident clashes among rival groups in Sawt, producer Raza Mehmood Agha and reporter Khalid Jameel of a private TV channel were wounded when a mortar-shell went off at Fiza Ghat. Arrival of Beniezer Bhutto in Karachi after exile will be memorized incident for rousing political reception and deadly act of twin suicidal blasts hit the peaceful political rally. Shaheed Beniezer was the target, which left behind hundreds of casualties and life time disabilities for other hundreds. In October 07, Arif Khan a cameraman of a news channel ARY One World died in carnage at Karsaz Karachi, when he was covering the rally. The daily Khabrain correspondent from Mureed Shakh, Obarro ‘Ehsan Ali alias Commando Mazaari’, also died in the Karachi blasts, his body was brought to his ancestral town Mureed Shakh for burial. A number of media persons were critically injured during the blasts, they include Siddique Chaudhry crime reporter Daily Khabrain, Abid Ali Dawn News, Wasiq Naeem Express, Haroon Rashid Deputy Controller ENG service APP, Rashid Ali Panhwar reporter APP, Talat Anjum cameraman APNA TV and Syed Ather Hussain reporter Jusrrat. After the blast, government was urged to pay attention to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of journalists covering mega events, but response is still awaited.

In the hub of federal capital, Lal mosque carnage will always be remembered as most regrettable act in history of Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a massacre on the name of Islam where both rivals government and Islamic militants were fighting for Islam but victims were innocent pupils of Quran and prayer. In bloodshed, two media men Javed Khan and Muhammad Maqsood Ahmed were killed in crossfire between the law-enforcers and the Lal Masjid students. Javed Khan a photo-journalist was associated with an Urdu daily ‘Markaz’ and a UK-based DM Digital TV while Journalist Muhammad Maqsood Ahmed, 34, was a reporter for Al-Qalam Magazine.

During the operation, eight working journalists received serious injuries include Absar Alam (Geo TV), Wahab Saleem (The Post), Israr Ahmed (CNBC), Qadeer (Business PLUS), Raja Zafar (Daily Express). Azhar bin Karim of Aaj TV, Asif Bashir and a cameraman Sher Afzal of ARY.

Above incidents are just highlights of the pain of media persons they swallow while reporting truth from conflict zones and under the threats of terror. During the recent military operation to tribal areas, most of the working journalists have to migrate to safer places with their families. Security is now an international phenomenon for humanity but more vigorously needed for media and media men. Now media needs security to perform duties for freedom of expression. The government should show a serious mindset towards security issues confronting journalists, particularly in the conflict areas, where life threats are common practices to cease the working of media men from visible and invisible hands. Although it is uphill task of government to provide secure environment to media professionals, but journalists are not satisfied, the reason PFUJ advices media persons, “Journalists must take extra care for themselves and for their families as we expect little from the authorities concerned.” Role of media is vital for the development of the society for unity and integrity of the country. Government should include guidelines in security plans to ensure safe reporting. Security plan for media can guarantee a code for security forces as well as journalists to facilitate media to evoke more sense of danger for movement in war zones. Government has important duty to nib the curse of security.

It should be dealt with mutual coordination, Media persons are brave and ready work in any troublesome situation to provide facts, truth and realistic reporting from battlefields; but media security should be ensured by an act of duty by the government.
Source: Pakistan Observer
Date:9/19/2008