Journalists persecuted in Pakistan, says Safma report
Diplomats and members of the civil society shook their heads in disbelief as reports from Balochistan and FATA areas were brought to Islamabad by Safma with first-hand reports. “Yes, it is true that there is a cell of Pakistan security agencies that has been set up in Quetta which on daily basis regulates the media. Not only does it issue press advice but also orders the media what to report and what not to report. Besides threats hurled at the media they also harass the media and ask them to get advertisements for certain publications,Â” Imtiaz Alam, Secretary-General Safma told The News.
Meanwhile, an outstanding report on the conditions of journalists working in the Fata areas was presented by Sadaf Arshad at the launch of the South Asia Media Monitor 2006. “Unknown people kidnapped an unknown person from an unknown place and released him at an unknown place”, this is how journalists have been coerced to report in an extremely hostile atmosphere. They can’t give names, nor can they file stories about the atrocities being perpetrated by various militias and tribal lashkars (armies). Most of the journalists from the tribal areas have been forced to leave for safer places and some of them are still followed or kidnapped for their professional indulgence,” writes Sadaf in the report.
“In tribal areas writing truth is equal to inviting your own death,” the journalists from tribal areas complained. Most journalists are under threat. The tribal areas of Pakistan have virtually been turned into no-go areas for journalists.
The pressures from local militias, tribal chiefs, maliks, mullahs, political agents, intelligence services and various other powerful quarters are so numerous and lethal that none would dare to file independent reports for his media organisation. On the other hand, the powerful mullahs have now their own FM radio stations to spread hate, intolerance and obscurantism.
Independent journalists are threatened and harassed on these FM radio stations. The journalists are in fact surrounded by threats from all quarters. They can’t report against the excesses of the army, nor can they file a single word against the self-appointed guardians of faith.” Absolutely outlandish and unbelievable are the different laws that govern Fata since Pakistani laws are not applicable there.
Source: The News