Six Pakistani journalists killed in first four months of 2013: Press Freedom report

May 3, 2013 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: At least six journalists have been killed in the line of duty in Pakistan during four months of 2013. Two of them were purposely targeted and murdered because of their work while remaining four killed in suicide blasts. 54 journalists were killed in the country during the period of Jan 2002 to Apr 2013. 35 of them were murdered deliberately because of their work, disclosed a ‘Press Freedom Report of Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), released here on Friday, May 3, 2013.

Of the 54 journalists killed in the line of duty during these 12 years, 15 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 from Federally Administrated Tribal Agencies (FATA), 16 from Balochistan, 8 from Sindh, 3 from Punjab and 2 from the federal capital, Islamabad.

Of the 35journalists murdered since the year 2002 because of their work, 10 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 from Balochistan, five from FATA, six from Sindh, three from Punjab and one from Islamabad. Twenty of them were shot; six targeted in suicide attacks, one killed in a bomb blast, while eight abducted before murder.

Balochistan remained the most dangerous province for journalists in 2013 killing four journalists in the line of duty. Many journalists received direct life threats sometimes by security agencies and militants. Cable operators also shut down the channels in 14 districts of Balochistan after receiving threats from banned groups.

At least eight journalists got injuries in different incidents in which three got injured in bomb blasts in Quetta, three others had been beaten by the militants in Swat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa province while two were beaten by the police officials in different incidents in Karachi and Jacobabad cities of Sindh province over the coverage of incidents.

In Sindh, the workers of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), a political party burnt the copies of leading English-Language newspaper daily “Dawn” in Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Hala and Benazirabad cities and bared the hawkers from distribution of the copies of the newspaper. They claimed that news coverage of JSMM’s Sindh-wide protest on various issues was being neglected by the paper.

In a separate incident in Karachi, some unidentified men entered in the bureau office of an Urdu-language newspaper “Daily Tawar” and burned records and archives before leaving the place.

About 14 shops selling music/ compact disks and cell phones were blown up in 2013 in tribal areas of Pakistan including Bannu, Hangu, Nowshehra and Peshawar the capital city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa province by the militants. According to them music is not allowed in Islam.

Government imposed ban on TV channel over defamatory remarks for Chief of Army Staff by a guest in a talk show. In Balochistan, cable operators had been threatened time to time either by the banned outfits or security agencies over not airing the content of their wishes. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting wrote a letter to the media representative bodies and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) asking private media to avoid carrying the statements of banned outfits. The city Police on the orders of provincial High Court has registered the case under anti-terrorism act against the journalists of four leading Urdu-Language newspapers Jang, Intikhab, Express and Mashriq in Quetta.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) also strictly directed all the ECP officials not to issue any statement to electronic or print media. Not only this but Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting recommended ban on telecasting of foreign content by foreign television channels during the prime time.

During these four months, some positive actions had also been taken to support media. In which the United Nations Action Plan against Impunity has been launched in Pakistan on Mar 7 seeking support efforts to promote security and safety of journalists in the country. Pakistan is one of the five pilot countries of the UN Action Plan against Impunity.

Security Agencies also arrested the former president of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s (LeJ) Sindh chapter who was the master mind behind thwe killing of Danial Pearl during a raid in Karachi on Mar 17.

The draft of Freedom of the Information Act had also been approved by the provincial cabinet in March.

According to the report the journalists killed in the year 2013 included Tariq Aslam of Daily Pakistan, who was killed in a suicide blast at Peshawar on April 16, 2013. Mehmood Ahmed Afridi of Daily Intikhab was murdered in Kalat, Balochistan on May 01, 2013. Malik Mumtaz of Jang Group was murdered on February 27, 2013. Imran Shaikh and Saif ur Rehman of Samma TV and Mohammad Iqbal of NNI News Agency were killed in a suicide blast in Quetta on January 10, 2013. Three journalists got injuries in this bomb blast.

The media organizations and journalists also braved ban and restrictions. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is letters to the media representative bodies and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) asked private media to avoid carrying the statements of banned outfits.

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting and the Secretary of the Ministry along with Pemra and Federal Press Information Department already held numerous meetings with All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Pakistan Broadcasting Association, bringing them home the importance of restraining the media from publishing and broadcasting the statements and hate material issued by the representatives of banned outfits as per law of the land, it added.

In this regard, the Pemra has specifically imposed financial penalties and a number of channels for violating the terms and conditions of their licenses, whereby they are supposed to observe an acceptable code of conduct as per relevant law.

Election Commission of Pakistan officials have been barred from issuing statements to media. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has strictly directed all the ECP officials not to issue any statement to electronic or print media.

Meanwhile, Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on March 5, recommended ban on telecasting of foreign content by foreign television channels including dramas with Urdu dubbing during 7 pm to 11 pm to save the local artists and drama industry.

Senate body also directed for rationalizing showing of foreign contents by 10% by local channels and make sure these 10% contents are shown within 24 hours and not during prime time alone.

However, federal minister for information suggested the committee that a joint meeting of National Assembly and Senate committee on Information and Broadcasting be convened so that joint recommendations be finalised and placed before the assembly for remedial measures.

In Peshawar, Hangu, Banuu and Nowshera militants blew up shops selling CD, music and cell phones shops.

The United Nations Action Plan against Impunity has been launched in Pakistan seeking support efforts to promote security and safety of journalists in the country. Pakistan is one of the five pilot countries of the UN Action Plan against Impunity.

The UN plan was launched in Islamabad by Guy Berger, the Head of the Freedom of Expression Division at the Unesco headquarters in Paris and elaborated by Director Unesco-Pakistan Kozue Kay Nagata. The Plan will serve to support existing efforts to promote actions for the safety of the journalists in Pakistan by facilitating coordination and collaborative actions by various national and international media support and defence groups.