Attack on media team
THERE’S no argument that Pakistan is, for a variety of reasons, already amongst the most challenging of terrains for journalists to navigate. Even so, the events that took place during the PTI’s ‘shutdown’ of Lahore on Monday mark a new low; the media team of Geo TV, whose management PTI leader Imran Khan has in recent weeks been censuring from the podium, was shamefully harassed.
Party supporters lobbed plastic bottles and gravel on the reporters, one of whom was a woman, raising slogans and making indecent gestures.
This is not the first time PTI supporters have made this particular media house their target — consider, for example, the fact that while a showdown was under way between the police and party supporters in Islamabad soon after Mr Khan launched his series of protests, the Geo building was singled out by PTI affiliates to vandalise.
That a female reporter was so poorly treated by supporters of a party that is rightly proud of its ability to attract large numbers of women out on the streets is considered by some to be an anomaly.
Yet at another level, the violence is not at all hard to understand. For months now, the PTI leader has been leading the verbal attacks against particularly this member of the media community, hurling threats and giving ultimatums.
While he has stopped short of calling for physical violence to be visited on the owners or employees of the media house, what is the message that the ordinary party supporter and activist walks away with? That media people are legitimate targets, even if their presence at the scene is necessitated by the demands of their profession. While it is true that this particular television channel’s approach to issue- or politics-centred journalism is problematic, in no way can assaults such as that by the PTI be justified.
It is not enough for party leaders to issue condemnations after violence has already taken place; the PTI leadership must unequivocally emphasise that such attacks are abhorrent.