Pakistan Press Freedom Report January-April 2005
Eleven incidents of attacking and suppressing media and its correspondents have been taken place from January to April 2005 in Pakistan. Two reporters from tribal areas were killed in an attack during this period. Numbers of journalists were injured in these attacks. In this period there were cases of baton charging on journalists, reports of throwing bombs, illegal detentions, attack on Lahore Press Club, and ransacking and smashing offices of newspapers by intolerants elements including government’s officials came into front. The motives behind all these incidents seemed to be reminiscent of the authoritarian age when dissidents were subjugated.
On February 7, three journalists returning in car from Sararogha, South Waziristan, where Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud had given himself up to the Pakistani authorities, were ambushed. Two of them, Amir Nawab Khan, a cameraman with APTN-broadcast news agency-and a reporter with Pakistani daily The Frontier Post, and Allah Noor Wazir , reporter with Pakistani Khyber TV, the daily The Nation and German news agency DPA, were killed. One Anwar Shakir, correspondent of Agence France-Presse in Wana, was injured. Local official said the attack had been an attempt to sabotage the peace agreement between the authorities and Baitullah Mehsud.
On January 14, nine journalists were injured when activists of the Imamia Students Organisations (ISO)-a sectarian group- staged a protest against the death of Shiite religious scholar Agha Ziauddin outside the Lahore Press Club and resorted to violence later. The demonstrators started misbehaving with a senior journalist Asghar Butt. When some journalists came to rescue their colleague, the ISO activists started beating them and started pelting stones and petrol bombs at the club premises.
In another incident offices of the Jang Group of Newspapers and Geo television in Karachi were attacked by several unidentified armed men early on January 29. The armed men ransacked and damaged furniture and equipment of the office. According to the Geo TV the attack was in reaction to a TV interview of Israeli deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, which was also published in daily Jang and The News. The officials of Jang group in Islamabad had received a telephone call from a foreign journalist who asked a number of sensitive questions about the interview. Pakistan Press International received an unmarked press release other day saying it was reaction to the TV program ‘Uljhan SuljahnÂ’ discussing incest issues.
A correspondent of Jang Group of Newspapers and Geo television was brutally beaten by an army officer on March 20. Nisar Abbas of Geo TV and the daily Jang in Skardu, Northern Areas was physically assaulted during a military operation to halt a ceremony organised by a care organisation. The soldier beat Abbas with the butt of his rifle, leaving him with bad bruising particularly on his shoulders.
On March 3, a home-made bomb was thrown at the home of Khurshid Ahmed, correspondent of daily Khabrain in Gilgit. The bomb caused no injuries. According to Gilgit Press Club the bomb could have been an attempt to intimidate local journalists in response to their decision not to report provocative statements by local sectarian elements.
On April 15 and 16 police used extensive violence in Karachi and Lahore against journalists covering a visit to Pakistan by opposition leader Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party, and activities related to the visit. At Lahore airport, journalists both local and international were harassed and assaulted by police. Earlier, at Karachi Cant. Railway station three journalists, Malik Munawar of the Daily Asas Karachi, Tasadduk Ghouri of the Janbaz Karachi daily newspaper and Yaseen Jabalpuri of APNA TV reporting departure of activists to Lahore for welcoming PPP leader, were manhandled and badly injured. The journalists were assaulted although they showed their identifications to the police force.
ENDS-Tariq Ahmed Saeedi