Pakistan Media Comes of Age Despite Rising Violence
5 journalists killed, 17 arrested, 61 injured, 27 harassed
11 attacks on media property, 16 cases of gag orders
Annual State of Pakistan Media Report 2006-07
Analysis covering period May 3, 2006 to May 3, 2007
By ADNAN REHMAT
6-B Street 31 F-7/1 Islamabad
PAKISTAN MEDIA ASSERTS ITSELF
DESPITE RISING INTIMIDATION
There has been a major escalation in the incidents of attacks on media in general, including government attempts to muzzle the media, in Pakistan during the period May 3, 2006 to May 3, 2007 but the broadcast media in particular wrote a chapter in defiance by asserting itself despite the rising intimidation it faced.
At least five journalists were killed, 17 were arrested or detained, 61 injured in physical attacks or tortured and 27 harassed or intimidated while 11 cases of attacks on media property and 16 cases of official restrictions imposed on media to censor coverage or gag orders were reported.
The five journalists killed included Munir Sangi, Hayatullah Khan, Maqbool Siyal, Muhammad Ismail Malik and Mehboob Khan. Of these, the first four were killed by unidentified people and whose killers have not been apprehended by the authorities. The fifth, Mehboob Khan, was killed in a suicide bombing aimed at Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao.
Of the 17 journalists arrested or detained, 12 belonged to the print media and 5 from the private TV sector. The highest incidence of this category of violation included was Sindh province (6), Punjab (5), Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA (4) and Balochistan and Northern Areas one each.
The 61 journalists injured or tortured included 27 cases in Sindh, 16 in Punjab, 9 in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), 7 in Islamabad and 2 in FATA. Of these at least 11 belonged to the TV sector and 50 to the print media.
The 27 journalists harassed or intimidated included 7 from Sindh, 5 from NWFP, 3 from FATA, 2 each from Punjab and Balochistan and one each from Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. Of these 4 worked for TV channels and 23 for print media.
The 11 instances of attacks on media property included 4 in Islamabad, 3 in Sindh, 2 in Balochistan and one each in NWFP and Azad Kashmir. Of these, four attacks were on press clubs, 2 against offices of TV channels, two against newspaper offices and one each against a media NGO and a unit housing a TV tower.
The nature of attacks and those of attackers continues to spread. It shows that there has been a dramatic increase in the level of violence and intimidation against journalists and media organizations this year and the government authorities and functionaries emerged as their greatest adversary being involved in arresting dozens of journalists and attacking and beating up many others.
There has also been a discernable rise in the numbers of attempts by the government to stop and interrupt TV transmissions and even official written directives to TV channels to stop airing certain current affairs programs and influencing content of others.
Others instances of influencing media content include banning publications, Internet websites, shutting down radio stations, raiding presses, instituting cases against journalists, restricting media from going about their duties including aggressively keeping journalists out of large swathes of territories, particularly the tribal areas in the northwest bordering Afghanistan.
BROADCAST MEDIA COMES
OF AGE IN PAKISTAN
Not all was glum and grim in Pakistan under the period in review. In today’s “You Tube” world, where political events unfold in real time, a single video clip can provoke a revolution. In Tbilisi, Georgia, television coverage of the government’s attempt to shut down a popular TV station brought thousands of people into the streets, culminating in the “Rose Revolution.” Pakistan is the newest country to teeter on the edge of a television revolution.
The political crisis triggered in March 2007 by a controversial attempt by President General Pervez Musharraf to sack Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in Pakistan is the most serious since the military coup of 1999 that swept Musharraf to power. The military takeover was facilitated — in 1999, as well as in 1958 and 1977 — by the absence of independent local broadcast media. The military seized the state-owned TV and radio — until 2002 the only terrestrial electronic media in the country and therefore the only mainstream source of information with universal geographic access — blanked the broadcasts and most Pakistanis only found out the next day that their fate had been sealed.
It was different in March 2007. Unlike the 1999 coup, the turmoil of the judicial crisis played out on live television. Independent satellite and cable TV channels broadcast political unrest in the face of a government campaign of intimidation and police violence. Within minutes of President Musharraf, who is also a serving general, ‘sacking’ the chief justice of Pakistan, the news was flashed around the country by private TV channels. The first major battle between key power wielders of Pakistan since the 1999 military coup was underway and it was being played out live! By the end of the day on March 9, 2007, there was nothing else but the battle royale on Pakistan’s dozen or so current affairs channels (of a total of about 50 private TV channels) — in Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi and Punjabi languages.
Over the course of the months after the judicial crisis broke out, as lawyers, political parties and NGOs continued protesting the controversial sacking of the chief justice, a riveted Pakistani population has been sitting out their days — at home and in offices — before TV screens and have seen the event analyzed inside out like nothing ever before. This is the first time ever in Pakistan’s history that the average citizen has been afforded sustained real-time access to information about an unfolding crisis of monumental proportions in which they have found they can influence the outcome of debates through protests through the power of informed responses orchestrated by the civil society.
Life in Pakistan is anything but dull. Crises and upheavals are a national staple — military coups, hanging and forced exiles of prime ministers, bombing to death or jailing provincial chief ministers and governors, jailing serving parliamentarians and so on. The Orwellian ‘Establishment’ — the euphemism for the nexus between the military and bureaucracy that has held sway over Pakistan’s checkered 60-year fate — has usually managed to control events because it has controlled information flows and deployed sustained propaganda, thereby keeping people in the dark and blunting popular responses through enforcing delays on newsbreaks and therefore on expressions of popular sentiment.
Expanded media space
This time round the Establishment has been caught unguarded by a world that has changed at a dizzying pace over the last few years to the greater access to information by the average citizen. Part of its undoing has ironically comes from the Pakistan government’s own policies of opening up the airwaves for private ownership. In 2002 the Musharraf regime set up the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to issue the first licenses for private radio stations and TV channels. In the last 5 years, about 130 FM stations and around 50 TV channels have sprouted up as a result — breathing in a refreshing open information regime that has allowed the 160 million Pakistanis the first reliable alternative sources of information about issues affecting their lives in real time. This matters a great deal to a population only 35% functionally literate and where newspaper circulation is a mere 5 million. With five readers to a newspaper and a total of 25 million potential readers, this still leaves about 135 million to get their basic information from TV and radio media.
One of Musharraf regime’s consistent self-praises has been its policy of opening up the media space to private TV channels. However, many argue that it was not a favor to the citizens but a right that had been denied for too many decades. The truth is that the government did not have the capacity to resist the enlarging of the public information sphere any more. It was Musharraf’s alleged Kargil fiasco — mounting a military conflict in Indian-administered Kashmir in the late 1990s — that was the turning point. In the absence of private broadcast media and with state-owned TV and radio telling them virtually nothing of Pakistan’s military setbacks, Pakistanis were switching in their millions for information to Indian TV channels through satellite dishes beaming the military conflict live — in a language (Hindi) that is close to Pakistan’s national language (Urdu). The same happened when the 1999 military coup took place. The Musharraf regime had no choice but to open up the media space in Pakistan in a strategic decision to wean away Pakistanis from what it saw as “enemy propaganda” (India and Pakistan have fought three major wars in 60 years) but what Pakistanis lapped up as real-time information from India. It therefore allowed local private TV channels.
The language of violence
In the interim, leading to the judicial crisis in the spring of 2007, the Musharraf government has dealt with the private media, especially TV channels and radio stations, in the way the state always has — intimidation, coercion and violence. At least 25 journalists have been killed in Pakistan, including Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal, since the 1999 military coup — many of them suspected to be by government functionaries including intelligence agencies. Several hundreds of others have been beaten up, intimidated, arrested and prevented from performing their duties. The attacks have included violence against TV channels, radio stations and newspaper offices.
Perturbed by the unprecedented live coverage of protests by lawyers, political parties and other civil society organizations and standard heavy-handed official violence by the authorities against them, the government responded by first disturbing broadcasts of TV channels, banning popular current affairs programs on them, registering court cases against channels, enforcing censorship through regular advice and finally an incredibly open show of hostility against Geo TV. Uniformed police attacked the Geo TV office on March 16 in Islamabad and its sister media publications, assaulting its journalists and smashing property. It even lobbed teargas shells into the office to force all journalists out in a bid to disrupt transmission. The attack was shown live and continued even in the presence of the government’s information minister after he rushed there and failed to stop the violence.
The unprovoked government attack on Geo TV escalated the protests against the attempted firing of the chief justice and detonated a debate over freedom of expression and association, and broader civil rights. General Musharraf apologized on national television for the attack on Geo — a first in his eight year rule — in an attempt to quell unrest. This too was replayed endlessly, dramatically acknowledging the emergence of independent media as a new and powerful force in Pakistan’s political life. With the political parties largely emasculated by forced exiles and intimidation of their political leaders, Pakistan’s young television broadcasters have taken over their role in mobilizing the masses. For months, a riveted audience has watched as 15 independent current events TV channels endlessly played footage of the crisis.
Media-led mass popular defiance
It was the relentless 24/7 comment on the crisis and footage of the chief justice being humiliated by official functionaries that triggered unprecedented riots led by the lawyers across the country and quickly backed by the political parties. The Musharraf-led dispensation has been getting negative soundbites from lawyers, political parties and civil society actors like never before live on TV. Hence the inevitable crackdown on the media concluding in brute force against Geo TV. However it was the reaction of the people in general and intelligentsia in particular to the attack on Geo TV and letters of warnings to several other TV channels such as Aaj TV and ARY TV that triggered something far more significant and took the national crisis to a new level: mass popular defiance, led by a unified media up in arms, the newsrooms matching the spirit of the lawyers in the streets.
The lessons from Pakistan’s media pluralisms are stark:
* In the global context of television media’s impact this is the most dramatic confrontation between a free and independent media and an autocratic state since the Georgian “Rose Revolution” and is already defining a turning point in Pakistan’s future.
* Citizens are finally getting information in real time on a mass scale with the result that every citizen is discussing and speaking in homes, offices and in streets about the judicial crisis. This is the end of the traditional military-enforced culture of “siyasi guftagoo mana hai [‘political discussion prohibited’ that military regimes have aggressively promoted]” — the first signs of an institutionalization of empowerment of the people.
* Broadcast media has assumed a critical conscience about its emergence as a major power wielder in Pakistan by its open on-air defiance of state coercion and by standing its ground and forcing an official retreat in the face of live finger-pointing. One particular show by a channel even brought together political talk show hosts of all current affairs channels (setting aside competition rivalries for a common cause) to discuss various government pressures and tactics aimed at blunting criticism. The show revealed in gory details the dirty trickery employed by the government to curb dissent and ended on a note of consensus to defy all such pressures in the future.
* Pakistan’s major power wielders seem to be formally acknowledging the emergence of broadcast media as a major organ that can conduct accountability and which needs to be respected. Musharraf’s apology and instant shows of support by lawyers, NGOs and political parties for the broadcast media reflect this. There seem to be a general acknowledgement that Pakistan’s courageous broadcast media has assumed the lead role in national discourse.
* Pakistan’s broadcast media has articulated well the concerns of the disempowered citizens, seizing this role from the political parties by mobilizing public opinion as well as the intelligentsia — the role that usually political parties do but which had been otherwise rendered impaired by the Establishment through forced exiles and intimidation of political leaders and rendering the parliament — the only other space where public concerns can be articulated — powerless.
* For once the independent broadcast media in Pakistan is no longer accepting state pressure to tone down dissent — even months into the crisis, which shows no signs of abating — and the citizens are demanding respect for the rule of law, access to information and freedom of expression. The news from Pakistan is loud and clear: the media have emerged as the voice of the people and Big Brother can’t seem to do dictate the news.
CHRONICLES OF SHAME
A chronology of violations against media between May 3, 2006 and May 3, 2007
Munir Sangi, photographer for daily Kawish (Larkana, Sindh)
May 29, 2006: Mr Sangi, 28, was killed in crossfire between two battling tribes as he filmed the gun battle. 15 others perished in the clash. The Sindh provincial government ordered a judicial inquiry into Sangi’s killing, which remains incomplete. On December 9, 2006, Sindh Chief Minister Dr Ghulam Arbab Rahim presented a cheque of Rs300,000 to Sangi’s widow. Sangi’s killers remain untraced and unpunished.
Hayatullah Khan, correspondent for AFP (South Waziristan, Tribal Areas)
June 16, 2006: Mr Khan, 29, was found dead near Mir Ali village of Waziristan, his hands chained and his death caused by being shot in the head at point-blank range. He had been missing since December 2005 from Mir Ali. The report of a judicial tribunal set up by the federal government to probe his abduction and murder, widely suspected by intelligence agencies, was not made public. Khan’s killers remain untraced and unpunished.
Maqbool Siyal, correspondent for Online news agency (Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP)
September 14, 2006: Mr Siyal was murdered by unknown people. Police investigations have led to no arrests. While the police suspect a sectarian motive to the killing (Siyal belonged to the Shia sect and D I Khan city has a history of Shia-Sunni sectarian violence), his colleagues claim it was a terrorist attack to browbeat media against coverage of military crackdown against terrorists in close-by tribal areas. Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi have a cheque of Rs300,000 to Siyal’s family. Siyal’s killers remain untraced and unpunished.
Muhammad Ismail Malik, resident editor for PPI news agency (Islamabad)
October 31, 2006: Mr Malik was mysteriously found dead in the woods near a busy super market of Islamabad. Investigations led to the police claiming to have found an accused allegedly having confessed to killing Malik in revenge pertaining to an alleged moral misconduct against him by the deceased. Malik’s family members and colleagues dismiss the claims as concocted and beyond proof and charge the authorities with coming up with claims that forces Malik’s hapless family from pursuing the case and itself managing to cover up the reasons behind the shocking murder of a widely respected journalist.
Mehboob Khan, a freelance photographer, (Charsadda, NWFP)
April 28, 2007: Mr Khan was killed in a suicide bombing attack aimed at Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, in Charsadda, which left 32 dead and dozens injured, including four other journalists. The identity of the suicide attacker, whose remains were found at the attack site, remains unknown.
JOURNALISTS ARRESTED / DETAINED
Mehruddin Marri, reporter for daily Kawish (Thatta, Sindh)
June 27, 2006: Mr Marri was arrested by the police and handed over to the security agencies. After his release on November 4, 2006, Marri said he was taken to an unidentified location and interrogated by military and intelligence personnel about his alleged ties with nationalist leaders in Balochistan province who are conducting an insurrection, beaten up and administered electric shocks.
Khalil Afridi and Sudher Khan Afridi, reporters of daily Frontier Post and Abu Zar, reporter for daily Express (Khyber Agency, tribal areas)
June 30, 2006: The political administration of Khyber Agency detained the three journalists for 24 hours who were traveling together after having interviewed militant leader Mangal Afridi of Lashkar-e-Islami, demanding that they reveal his whereabouts. The journalists were released after intervention by local clerics.
Ghulam Rasool, a freelance journalist (Dadu, Sindh)
July 3, 2006: Dadu police registered a case against Mr Rasool, reportedly at the behest of a ruling party leader and arrested him.
Nadeem Ahmed, reporter for daily Koshish (Ghotki, Sindh)
July 22, 2006: Mr Ahmed was arrested by the police for alleged kidnapping in a case dating back eight years. This was a day after he was shot and injured by unknown persons.
Kalsoom Khaliq, reporter for daily Ausaf (Layyah, Punjab)
August 15, 2006: Police detained Ms Khaliq for several hours for not carrying a security pass for a ceremony attended by Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi.
Rafiq Aijaz, editor of daily Chamag (Turbat, Balochistan), Abdul Sattar Khan, a freelancer (Chiniot, Punjab) and Saeed Sarbazi, reporter for daily Business Recorder (Karachi, Sindh)
September 2006: Police and intelligence agencies arrested the three journalists separately from their cities and interrogated them over alleged links to militant groups. The same month all three were released; Mr Sarbazi quietly while Mr Aijaz and Mr Khan granted bail by local courts.
Dilawar Khan Wazir, correspondent for BBC and Dawn newspaper (South Waziristan, tribal areas)
November 19, 2006: Mr Wazir went missing from Islamabad under mysterious circumstances. He was released after 24 hours in the face of major protests by eth media community. He says his kidnappers took him to an unidentified location and interrogated him about his work in the restive tribal areas. The identity of his abductors remains unknown but Wazir suspects intelligence agencies.
Syed Saleem Shahzad, reporter for daily Star (Karachi, Sindh) and Qamar Yousafzai, reporter for daily Ummat (Karachi, Sindh)
November 20, 2006: Mr Shahzad and Mr Yousafzai were detained by Taliban forces in the tribal areas. Freed after a 24-hour captivity, Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammad Hanif (himself later arrested by Nato and Afghan authorities in Afghanistan) said the journalists were found in areas close to the Pak-Afghan border controlled by them as they had not sought prior notice.
Shaheen Buneri, cameraman for AVT Khyber TV (Swat, Northern Areas)
March 2, 2007: Supporters of firebrand, anti-government cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who operates several illegal FM radio stations, agitated by a government attempt to arrest their leader, detained Buneri, who was filing the event and broke his camera. The cameraman was released after several hours in hostile detention.
Irfan Khalid, reporter for Labaik TV (Nawan Kot, Punjab)
April 8, 2007: Lahore-based Mr Khalid and cameraman Muhammad Islam were confronted by four unidentified persons in Nawan Kot as they were returning from a meeting. Both were beaten up at gunpoint. They bundled up Khalid in a car and sped away, leaving Islam behind. Khalid was released later after being warned not to report again.
Sheharyar, reporter and Irfan, cameraman, both for Geo TV (Kasur, Punjab)
April 21, 2007: Mr Sheharyar and Mr Irfan were detained for several hours by the students of a madrassa in Kasur, as they were filming the seminary to report on reports that the madrassa was allegedly keeping two missing girl students. The journalists were later freed by the police.
JOURNALISTS TORTURED / INJURED
Imtiaz Waseem, cameraman for Apna TV (Lahore, Punjab)
May 25, 2006: The senior superintendent of city police beat up Mr Waseem as he was shooting footage of a dental hospital in Lahore.
Paryal Dayo, reporter for daily Kawish and KTN TV (Pano Aqil, Sindh)
June 12, 2006: Mr Dayo sustained serious injuries when unidentified men opened fire at him with a Kalashnikov at Shahi Bazar in Pano Aqil town as was interviewing some people.
Abdul Hafeez, Mukhtiar Qasmani, Mehmood and Elahi Bakhsh (Khairpur, Sindh)
June 14, 2006: These journalists were injured in a vicious attack on Thari Mirwah Press Club in Khairpur by a group of about 20 unidentified men. The journalists were kicked, punched and beaten up with batons.
Zahid Aslam, Jaffar Ali Baloch (Mirpur Khas, Sindh)
June 28, 2006: Mr Aslam and Mr Baloch were attacked by four unidentified armed men as they returned from a reporting assignment. Both sustained physical injuries. No motive was clear for the unprovoked attack.
Adeel Khan, reporter, and Qasim Khan, cameraman for ARY One TV (Karachi, Sindh)
July 14, 2006: Both journalists were thrashed in Karachi by outraged mourners protesting the assassination of Tehrik-e-Jafria religious leader Hasan Turabi, as they filmed the mourning procession.
Mustahsan Nadeem, reporter daily Khabrain (Lahore, Punjab)
July 20, 2007: Mr Nadeem was badly beaten up by his own editor and his gunmen for refusing to influence the judiciary in a criminal case, as reported by BBC Urdu Online.
Muhammad Hussain, correspondent for daily The News (Mansehra, NWFP)
July 24, 2007: Mr Hussain was beaten up badly by three armed men at night as returned home from office. No motive was clear for the unprovoked attack.
Omer Soomro, reporter for daily Sham (Umerkot, Sindh)
August 27, 2006: Mr Soomro was severely tortured by the henchmen of local nazim Ali Mangrio, brother of Qamar Mangrio, an advisor to the Sindh chief minister. Soomro was stripped naked, his head, mustaches and eyebrows shaved off. Police refused to register a case despite several witnesses.
Samar Gul, correspondent (Lakki Marwat, NWFP)
August 3, 2006: Mr Gul, a correspondent for some Peshawar-based newspapers, and former president of Lakki Press Club, sustained bullet injuries when attacked by unidentified men as he was on his way home along with his brother.
Shahraza Shah, correspondent (Charsadda, NWFP)
August 8, 2006: Mr Shah, a Charsadda-based correspondent for a Peshawar daily, was tortured by police personnel who later refused to register a case against their own colleagues.
Manzoorul Hassan, editor of weekly Ishraq (Lahore, Punjab)
August 24, 2006: Two unidentified men shot and injured Mr Hassan in Lahore. No motive was clear behind the unprovoked attack.
Mousa Khan, journalist (Mingora, NWFP)
September 7, 2006: Mr Khan was attacked by a group of unidentified men. No motive was clear behind the unprovoked attack.
C R Shamsi, deputy editor for daily Ausaf (Islamabad)
September 13, 2006: Mr Shamsi was savagely beaten up by the guards of Federal Minister for Labor and Manpower Ghulam Sarwar Khan on his instructions within the parliament premises.
Wadood Mushtaq, reporter, and Nazir Awan, cameraman for ARY TV and Zahid Malik, reporter for ATV channel (Lahore, Punjab)
September 17, 2006: Messrs Mushtaq, Awan and Malik were thrashed by police led by Deputy Superintendent Police Mukhtar Shah as they filmed and reported a religious congregation at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. All three sustained multiple fractures. The police later apologized.
Ashfaq Khoso, journalist (Sukkur, Sindh)
September 23, 2006: Mr Khan was attacked by a group of unidentified men. No motive was clear behind the unprovoked attack.
Rehman Ullah, journalist (Charsadda, NWFP)
November 7, 2006: Mr Rehman Ullah, vice president of the Charsadda Press Club, sustained injuries in a reported murder attempt. The attacker was later arrested and jailed.
Muhammad Riaz, correspondent for daily Nawa-e-Waqt (Mundra, Punjab)
November 2006: Mr Riaz was injured in a knife attack by unidentified persons. No motive was clear about the attack.
Qazi Rauf, correspondent for Daily Times (Khyber Agency, tribal areas)
December 7, 2006: Mr Rauf was badly beaten up in Peshawar by the supporters of Muhammad Lal, the leader of a militant group based in Khyber Agency. Rauf was in a Peshawar hospital to collect information on the autopsy of Lal, who was killed by his rivals. Rauf was injured in a previous attack two year ago by the same group.
Abid Hussain and Muhammad Irfan, photographers for Lahore dailies (Lahore, Punjab)
December 17, 2006: Mr Hussain and Mr Irfan were set upon by the officials of Alhamra Cultural Complex as they photographed the aftermath of a stampede at the center, which had injured several people. The officials injured the photographers and smashed their cameras. The police came to the rescue of the journalists.
Muhammad Farooq, correspondent (Khyber Agency, tribal areas)
December 21, 2006: Some unidentified assailants injured Mr Farooq in an attempt to kidnap him as he was going to the press club in Bara from his house. No motive was clear behind the attack.
Rana Tanveer, reporter for Daily Times, Taqveem Shah, photographer, Rana Shahzad, cameraman for Royal TV, Mudassar Butt, reporter and Mohammed Ashfaq, cameraman for Geo TV (Lahore, Punjab)
March 17, 2007: Lahore Police thrashed these journalists as they covered a convention by the Lahore High Court Bar Association. Their equipment was also smashed by the berserk police.
Nadeem Jaffery, Muhammad Bilal, Mir Atiq and Naveed Miraj (Islamabad)
April 3, 2007: These journalists were roughed up by pro-government lawyers as they covered the events on the premises of the Supreme Court of Pakistan with proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council against the chief justice under way.
16 journalists including reporters and cameramen for newspapers and TV channels injured (Karachi, Sindh)
April 13, 2007: Sixteen journalists working for TV channels and newspapers were injured, some of them seriously, in a clash with members of the Karachi Bar Association in Karachi. As the protest rally of lawyers proceeded, a private TV channel’s van slightly grazed a lawyer. The ensuing altercation between the lawyers and journalists was resolved without any violence. However, as the rally reached Tibet Centre, some lawyers suddenly set upon a group of lawyers, resulting in injuries to at least 16 journalists.
Shakir Solangi, reporter for KTN TV (Islamabad)
April 13, 2007: Mr Solangi was thrashed by a member of National Assembly belonging to Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party, Ghulam Murtaza Satti. The legislator was incensed at a request by Solangi to stop talking as he recorded an interview party leader Amin Fahim.
Noman Khalid, producer of Business Plus TV (Islamabad)
April 24, 2007: Workers of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League beat up Mr Khalid outside the Supreme Court building as he covered the PML rally. Khalid had to be hospitalized.
Wasim Farooq, reporter, and Atif Yasin, cameraman for Apna TV (Lahore, Punjab)
April 25, 2007: Police badly beat up Mr Farooq and Mr Yasin and broke their equipment as they shot footage of a police shootout on district courts premises in which they captured police killing one person and injuring two.
Arif Yousafzai, cameraman for ATV, Siddiq Ullah, reporter for daily Subah, Ayaz Muhammad, reporter for APP and Arshad Ali, photographer for PID
April 28, 2007: These journalists sustained injuries at a suicide attempt against federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao in Charsadda. Their colleague, freelance photographer Mehboob Khan was not so lucky — he died of his injuries.
Sohail Qalandar, editor for daily Express (Peshawar, NWFP)
January 2, 2007: Sohail Qalandar was kidnapped by unidentified person from Peshawar along with one of his friends. He remained missing until recovered in a government raid near Peshawar on February 22, 2007.
JOURNALISTS HARASSED / INTIMIDATED
Amjad Abbasi, bureau chief daily Mussalman (Rawalpindi, Punjab)
May 27, 2006: Some unidentified armed men entered the home of Mr Abbasi at night and manhandled him, asking him to stop practicing journalism.
Sarmad Kanrani, reporter for daily Ibrat and Sindh TV and Mubarak Bhatti, reporter for daily Koshish and KTN TV (Thul, Sindh)
June 15, 2006: Mr Kanrani and Mr Bhatti received threats of “unforeseen consequences” from local feudal landlords for reports they filed about the decision of a jirga they presided.
Asif Wadood, reporter for daily Aaj (Peshawar, NWFP)
June 16, 2006: Mr Wadood, an investigative journalist, was summoned by officials of the office of Chief Minister Akram Durrani (of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal government) after he reported details of the provincial budget ahead of its announcement. The journalist was pressurized to disclose his sources which he refused.
Qazi Nasrullah, correspondent for daily Mashriq and Qazi Rauf, correspondent for daily Express (Khyber Agency, tribal areas)
June 25, 2006: Activists of militant group Lashkar-e-Islami threatened to demolish the houses of both Mr Nasrullah and Mr Rauf for allegedly reporting in favor of government policies.
Akhtar Gujar, journalist (Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab)
July 14, 2006: Police registered a case against Mr Gujar for writing crime diaries that allegedly brought them into disrepute.
Mehboob Shah Afridi, journalist (Khyber Agency, tribal areas)
July 21, 2006: Mr Afridi received death threats on telephone from activists of a religious group led by firebrand anti-government cleric Maulana Shakir for reporting on their activities.
Azhar Ali Khan, reporter for daily Business Recorder (Karachi, Sindh)
August 16, 2006: Police manhandled and threatened Mr Khan of “dire consequences” after exchange of hot words on a vehicle parking issue.
Abdul Waheed Kiani, reporter for Reuters (Mirpur, Azad Kashmir)
September 2006: Mr Kiani was detained for several hours and threatened of “dire consequences” by the police in Mirpur where he was on an assignment to interview the family of Rashid Rauf, the main suspect of an alleged plot to blow up several transatlantic airlines unearthed by the United Kingdom.
Shakeel Anjum, reporter for daily The News (Islamabad)
September 16, 2006: Inspector Idrees Rathore of Islamabad Police booked Mr Anjum in a triple murder case and charged him under the anti-terrorism case. This was the result of the reporter highlighting incompetence and inefficiency of the police. Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry declared the reporter innocent after a top-level police inquiry found him not guilty on October 16, 2006.
Mukhtar Ghazanfar, reporter for daily Khabrain (Islamabad)
September 18, 2006: Commerce reporter Ghazanfar received death threats from a senior Islamabad-based businessman for reports filed about his business concerns.
Kamran Rehmat, editor of daily The News (Islamabad)
December 14, 2006: Mr Rehmat was mysteriously tailed by unidentified persons in a car on his way back home from his Rawalpindi office to his Islamabad residence in the early hours of the morning before subjecting him to harassment in front of his residence and threats to “sort” him out. Neither the identity of the harassers nor their motive behind the intimidation is known.
Carlotta Gall, reporter, and Akhtar Soomro, photographer for New York Times (Quetta, Balochistan)
December 19, 2006: Ms Gall, who covers Pakistan and Afghanistan for New York Times, and Mr Soomro were harassed and detained by some men who said they were from the Special Branch of the police. These men forcibly entered Soomro’s room in his hotel around 8pm, and seized his computer and camera. Four men later broke into Gall’s room in a separate hotel, hit her and took away some of her belongings. Gall sustained bruises on her arms, temple, and cheekbone, swelling on her left eye and a sprained knee.
Kamal Majidullah, editor, Saleem Shahzad, chief correspondent, and reporter Ralph D Cruz of daily Star (Karachi, Sindh)
December 22, 2006: These journalists were indicted in a defamation case filed by Anwar Alam, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a member party of the ruling coalition government. The Star was the oldest English language evening daily of the Dawn Group of Newspapers. It ceased publication on December 2, 2006 citing government pressures.
Munawar Afridi of daily The News, Nisar Afridi of daily Khabrain and Wazir Afridi of daily Al-Akhbar (Kohat, NWFP)
March 2, 2007: Posters and flyers went up in Darra Adamkhel, the Frontier region of Kohat, signed by militant group Islami Mujahideen calling upon “the faithful” to put to death the three journalists for their alleged links to intelligence agencies. Nisar Afridi is the brother of Nasir Afridi of daily Khabrain, who was shot dead in December 2005 while driving in his car in the Darra Adamkhel area.
Hadi Sangi, cameraman for KTN TV (Larkana, Sindh)
March 5, 2007: Police registered a murder case against Mr Hadi, the brother of KTN TV cameraman Munir Sangi who was killed by unidentified gunmen on May 29, 2006. Both Hadi and his other brother Muqeem have been booked for alleged involvement in the murder of one Munir Unnar, who was killed on February 15, 2007.
Ansar Abbasi, reporter for daily The News (Islamabad)
March 12, 2007: Federal Law Minister Wasi Zafar used foul language and hurled threats against Mr Abbasi on a live Voice of America radio program. The minister was angry at the reporter for filing a story about him. The reporter’s story was headlined, “Law minister facing long arm of the law.” Accusing the reporter of filing fake stories, the minister said: “If a reporter will put a big arm in the law minister, I will put a big arm in that reporter, rather all his family.” The minister later apologized after a public outcry.
Javed Shaikh, journalist Upper Dir (NWFP)
April 11, 2007: Mr Shaikh is facing the wrath of local tribesmen over reporting of the murder decree by a local jirga in the remote valley of Osorai valley of a girl allegedly in the name of honor. Two family members of the girl ordered arrested by the police by a local judge as a result of the report claim the girl committed suicide. The journalist has received several phone calls threatening him of “dire consequences” if hew reports further on the issue or any other similar case.
Pervaiz Narejo, correspondent for Sindh TV (Dadu, Sindh)
November 2006: Mr Narejo has received death threats from local politicians after one of his reports was broadcast showing a pro-government member of National Assembly beating a policeman. According to reports the policeman was found dead a few minutes later. After the footage was screened, Narejo and his family received death threats and he was forced to flee to Karachi.
Habibur Rehman, editor-in-chief of weekly Chattan (Diamer, Northern Areas)
November 2006: Mr Rehman was served notice by the police for publishing material that risked “hurting the religious sentiments” of the people. The police later sealed the office of Chattan.
ATTACKS ON MEDIA PROPERTY
Thari Mirwah Press Club (Khairpur, Sindh)
June 14, 2006: Dozens of armed men attacked Thari Mirwah Press Club, beat up journalists there and wrecked the furniture and computers of the Press Club. No motive was clear behind the attack.
Peshawar Press Club (Peshawar, NWFP)
June 29, 2006: Activists of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q stormed the Peshawar Press Club to foil a news conference being held there by some dissident leaders of the party. The attackers who were armed with pistols, Kalashnikovs and sticks, beat up the journalists and rebellious members of their own party.
Geo TV (Karachi, Sindh)
July 15, 2006: Supporters of assassinated religious leader Maulana Abdur Rasheed Turabi sprayed bullets on the van of Geo TV as the channels were filming a mourning procession.
Quetta Press Club (Quetta, Balochistan)
July 15, 2006: A big contingent of police cordoned off the Quetta Press Club building for over 10 hours. No reason was given.
The Nation (Mirpur Khas, Sindh)
August 10, 2006: A group of unidentified armed men attacked the bureau office of daily The Nation in Mirpur Khas and smashed up office furniture and equipment. No one was hurt.
Press For Peace (Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir)
October 19, 2006: The office of a media NGO based in Muzaffarabad was attacked by a group of unidentified persons. The office furniture was ransacked and staff injured. No motive was clear behind the unprovoked attack.
National Press Club (Islamabad)
November 21, 2006: An activist of Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians entered the premises of the National Press Club in G-8 Islamabad and forcibly tried to take control of the premises. On reaction from the journalist community the matter was later resolved with the intruder leaving the premises.
Geo TV, The News and Jang (Islamabad)
March 16, 2007: The office of Geo TV, The News and Jang in Islamabad were vandalized by the Punjab police without provocation in the presence of Islamabad’s Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent Police. Around 25 armed policemen stormed inside the building, smashing down equipment, furniture as well as glass doors. The police also fired teargas shells inside the building to force the staff out. The attack was also shown live. President General Pervez Musharraf the same night apologized for the attack during live transmission and promised to punish those responsible. A low-level inquiry tribunal later declared that the policemen acted on their own. The findings have been pooh-poohed by the media community as unfeasible.
PTV Tower (Pasni, Balochistan)
April 4, 2007: Unidentified persons used a bomb to blow up a television transmitter tower belonging to state-run Pakistan television (PTV).
JOURNALISTS’ FAMILIES TARGETTED
Dilawar Khan Wazir, correspondent for BBC and daily Dawn (South Waziristan Agency, tribal areas)
August 30, 2006: Dilawar’s 15-year-old brother Taimur Khan was killed by unidentified assailants in South Waziristan Agency. The house and a school run by Dilawar’s family were also targeted by unidentified people with a bomb in December 2005. Dilawar was himself kidnapped on November 19, 2006.
Hayatullah Khan, correspondent for AFP (South Waziristan, Tribal Areas)
September 22, 2006: A cousin of Hayatullah Khan was found shot dead in South Waziristan Agency after being kidnapped by unidentified persons. Hayatullah was himself was found dead near Mir Ali village of Waziristan, his hands chained and his death caused by being shot in the head at point-blank range, on June 16, 2006. He had been missing since December 2005.
Din Mohammed, correspondent (Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP)
April 3, 2007: Mr Mohammed’s three uncles and a 15-year-old brother were killed one by one in the space of three days after he arranged a media delegation from Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar and Tank cities to visit Wana in Waziristan and arranged their meeting with a Wana tribal militant commander Maulvi Nazeer. The unidentified killers of his relatives also attacked his house from where he escaped and went into hiding.
RESTRICTIONS ON MEDIA
Mast FM 103 (Balakot, NWFP)
August 23, 2006: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) rejected the request of renewal of the license by the management of Mast FM 103 Balakot in the earthquake affected areas and ordered an immediate closure of the transmission without giving any reason. This was despite the fact that PEMRA extended the temporary broadcasting licenses of all the other FM radio stations operating in the earthquake affected areas. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said that the FM 103 license was not renewed because of its program that criticized the alleged misuse of funds allocated for the rehabilitation program carried out by government agencies in the quake-affected areas, especially Earthquake Relief and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).
ARY TV (Lahore, Punjab)
September 17, 2006: The government of Punjab issued “verbal directives” to cable operators in the province to stop airing the transmission of ARY Digital television network that includes ARY Digital, ARY Pakistan, ARY India, ARY Asia, ARY One World, QTV, The Muzik and the City Channel. The authorities issued the instruction when ARY repeatedly screened the scene of beating of journalists by the police at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. The transmissions were allowed to resume a week later.
ARY TV (Taxila, Hasanabdal and Wah, NWFP)
September 26, 2006: The cable operators of Taxila, Wah Cantonment and Hasanabdal said that the local police forced them to stop the transmission of ARY TV network. The broadcasts were allowed to resume on September 28.
Cinema houses of NWFP (NWFP)
September 24, 2006: The North West Frontier Province government issued an official notification to all cinemas in the province directing them to close down during the month of Ramadan or face punishment. All cinema houses complied.
The News, BBC and AVT Khyber TV (Bajaur Agency, tribal areas)
October 30, 2006: The political administration of Bajaur Agency stopped several journalists including Rahimullah Yousafzai of The News, Haroon Rashid of BBC and Mehmood Jan Babar of AVT Khyber TV, from heading to a village in the area where a major government military strike on a madrassa killed 83 people.
Sindh TV (Hyderabad, Sindh)
November 8, 2006: The transmission of private television channel Sindh TV was forced to go off air for several days. Brig (retd) Zahid Shakeel Ahmed, the head of Cable Television (CTV), Policy Wing, PEMRA, was reported as saying that the suspension of transmission was ordered by the federal interior ministry.
Aaj TV (Karachi, Sindh)
November 12, 2006: Government authorities pressurized private television channel Aaj to not broadcast a news report of a massive military attack on a madrassa in Bajaur Agency in the tribal areas, which killed 83. Aaj had carried on-the-spot interviews of locals of the village where the attack took place. To protest the government pressure, Aaj kept the screens blank at the scheduled time of the banned program.
Yahoo, YouTube and Hotmail (Islamabad)
March 2, 2007: The Pakistan Telecom Co Ltd, complying with a directive by the Supreme Court of Pakistan PTCL to block websites with blasphemous material against Islam and the Prophet, blocked access to thousands of websites and email servers, including Yahoo, YouTube and Hotmail. After a public outcry, the blockade was gradually lifted.
Aaj TV, Geo TV and ARY TV (Lahore, Punjab)
March 12, 2007: These three private TV channels remained off air for some time after getting a warning from PEMRA for showing pictures of police baton-charge on lawyers in Lahore protesting against the controversial suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. PEMRA later denied they had forced the channels off air and said “technical fault” was to blame for the absent transmission.
All Pakistan Newspaper Society and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (Islamabad)
March 12, 2007: A joint team of APNS and CPNE was refused permission to visit the “non-functional” Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The team of Pakistan’s media owners and editors was stopped near the Ministers Enclave in Islamabad where the police had barricaded the road leading to the Judges Colony.
All print and electronic media (Islamabad)
March 14, 2007: The Supreme Judicial Council, an inquiry tribunal hearing a controversial reference filed by President General Pervez Musharraf against Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, issued a press release noting “with grave concern” that the electronic and print media “is engaged in media trial on a sub-judice matter” whose proceedings are being held in-camera and are “not to be reported except as directed/authorized by the Council.” Issued by the office of the registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan, it added: “Therefore, the Supreme Judicial Council cautions the electronic and print media to refrain from indulging in media trial and in this behalf directs the Ministry of Information and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Islamabad to advise the electronic and print media not to arrange or produce talk shows and other similar programs concerning issues pending before the Council.”
Geo TV (Karachi, Sindh)
March 15, 2007: PEMRA ordered Geo TV to stop airing its flagship daily news program Aaj Kamran Khan Key Saath with immediate effect. The ban was triggered because of its coverage of the issue of the controversial suspension of the chief justice of Pakistan by the president. The ban was lifted on March 19 when the program came back with President General Pervez Musharraf invited as the guest.
Geo TV (Karachi, Sindh)
March 16, 2007: The independent television channel’s headquarters in Karachi received a call warning that a bomb planted in the office was about to go off triggering an evacuation of the building, shown live. A bomb disposal squad was called in which declared the premises safe.
Aaj TV (Islamabad)
April 23, 2007: PEMRA issued a “show cause notice” to privately channel Aaj TV threatening it with closure because of its coverage of the judicial crisis. The notice warned the channel that its license could be withdrawn if it did not amend its program content and if its CEO did not present himself to the PEMRA within three days to defend the station from the charge that it has been breaking the rules. Aaj has gone to court to challenge the notice and to defend its editorial independence.
Royal TV (Islamabad)
April 24, 2007: The government authorities ordered cable TV distributors to take off the transmissions of private Royal TV from the Islamabad and Rawalpindi regions due to its coverage of the judicial crisis.
USE OF STATE ADVERTISING AS PRESSURE ON MEDIA
Dawn Group of Publications (Karachi, Sindh)
Since December 2006, the Dawn Group is facing massive advertising cuts equivalent to two thirds of total government advertising in response to the group of publication’s coverage of the government’s controversial policies in the western province of Balochistan and in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan and the media group’s refusal to temper the coverage.
Express Group of Publications (Karachi, Sindh)
In December 2006, the government banned its advertisements quota to daily Express in response to its refusal to be influenced to requests of tempered coverage of officially conducted military operations in the restive tribal areas.