Media body demands journalists’ protection
LAHORE: Outraged at threats to the life and property of journalists in Karachi and Peshawar thrown up by extremist organisations, the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) on Wednesday urged the Pakistani authorities to protect them.
Three Pakistani journalists — Mazhar Abbas, Zarar Khan and Asif – working for national and international news organisations found bullets placed in their cars late on Tuesday. This comes a week after a shadowy organisation, the Mohajir Rabita Council, with links to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a party that supports military ruler President Pervez Musharraf, issued a list of a dozen journalists, declaring them ‘enemies’.
On May 25, gunmen attacked the Peshawar home of Daily Times cartoonist Muhammad Zahoor at around 2am. Four-time winner of the All Pakistan Newspaper Society’s annual best cartoonist award, Zahoor has drawn many cartoons on the Supreme Court chief justice’s dismissal in recent weeks.
The home of Nasrullah Afridi, correspondent for the Urdu-language daily Mashriq in the Khyber Agency section of the tribal areas, came under grenade attack after death threats made against him five days earlier by the head of Lashkar-e-Islam. Three grenades were thrown on May 26 at his family’s home in Hayatabad, near Peshawar, causing damage but no injuries.
“We believe it is a very serious threat to working journalists,” N Ram, the chairman of the commission, and Najam Sethi, the general secretary, said in a statement. “It is an attempt to muzzle the free media. The government should arrest those behind the threats,” they said in the statement released by the commission’s regional coordinator Husain Naqi. “Journalists need to know that they will be protected from threats or attack, and the Pakistani government needs to step up and provide that protection,” the statement said. “If the government fails to do so we will be justified in believing that there is complicity of the government in the current campaign to harass journalists.”
The Mojahir Rabita Council issued a threatening statement on May 22 with a list of some 20 journalists it described as ‘chauvinists’ and hostile to their movement.
The list included Zaffar Abbas (resident editor, Dawn, Islamabad), Mazhar Abbas (AFP bureau chief in Karachi), Azhar Abbas (Dawn News TV channel), Ayaz Amir (Dawn), Sajid Mir (anchor of TV One), Shaheen Sehbai (head of ARY One World), Dr Shahid Masood (anchor of Geo TV), Aneeq Ahmed (anchor of ARY One World), Afsar Imam (Aaj TV), Zarar Khan (bureau chief, AP, Karachi), Zahid Hussain (chief reporter, Geo) and Irfan Siddiqui (columnist, Nawa-i-Waqt).
Source: Daily Times