Press Freedom Day: Trauma, exile refuse to go away from journalist’s life even after five years of attack

03:04 PM | 3 May, 2019
Press Freedom Day: Trauma, exile refuse to go away from journalist’s life even after five years of attack
As the World Press Freedom Day is upon us this year, Raza Rumi, who paid a heavy price for his commentaries, activism for a censor-free press for Pakistan, when he looks back, he feels he has come a long way since the day he survived an assassination attack on his life on March 28, 2014, near Raja Market in Lahore.

Five years on, the case of the assassination bid on his life has yet to be concluded, and his own life is far from being called a normal one. But he has learned many hard lessons, which if analyzed, can be a textbook for the safety of the journalists of Pakistan and other parts of the world where press freedom is elusive.

On March 28, 2014, then a popular talk show’s analyst with Express News, Mr Rumi’s car came under attack near Raja Market, where his driver Mustafa was killed and guard Anwar Hussain injured. According to the capital city police officer Shafiq Ahmed, 11 bullet cases were found at the scene.

Though he escaped unhurt, the ensuing days were traumatic and trouble-filled.

“The first thing after the attack was the well-being of the family of driver Mustafa, who was the only bread-winner of a family of six people,” says Rumi, who is currently in the US, where he pursues his journalistic occupation as well a teaching job at Cornell University and Ithaca College.

Though he did not talk much about what he did for the family of the deceased driver, he says the heirs are secure and safe without any financial worries. "I want to respect their privacy and dignity," he added.

“Those associated with journalists are also at risk, and unfortunately their plights are hardly covered by the media. There must be some mechanism to support such people in case of eventualities,” he said.

The attack got a huge coverage from his TV channel – Express News.

According to Rumi, “The channel stood by me in the initial days. They covered the attack at length, and paid my salaries on time.” He, however, says other TV channels lacked guts to cover the assassination bid on their journalist colleague. “All media needs to sheds biases or old style journalism rules aside when it is the matter of a journalist colleague regardless of their media house affiliation,” he says.

Express-News Executive Producer Owais Hameed says this was the duty of the channel to stand by their staffer.

“Not only did we backed Raza Rumi, his co-host NabeelaSindhu, who was also under threat, was also provided support,” he says. MsSindhu was given leaves so that she overcome the ensuing trauma.” The channel continued the follow-up of the case. Other than the Express-News, Safma, the Federal Union of Journalists and the Lahore Press Club out and out condemned the attack. Lahore Press Club acting president ZulfiqarMehtu says the press club took out processions in those time when threats on journalists were a reality. Many regional press clubs across the country protested against this attack.

Activism and support by the colleagues, however, hardly lessened the level of threats on Rumi.

Friends in security agencies continued telling Mr Rumi to be vigilant as he was under threat. The warning was not unfounded. A few months before the attack, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan issued a list of people to be attacked, and Rumi was on the list.

“I was naïve to ignore such threats. The lesson for all is: never ignore threats. If you receive death threats, make adequate arrangements for your security, as no news is worth your life.” Rumi says he received threats after the attack. The police advised him not to leave the house.

To avoid virtual house arrest, Rumi had no other option but to leave Pakistan. He landed in the US and joined his siblings who had been settled there for long.
Up to 72 journalists have killed in Pakistan from 2002 to 2018. According to the Pakistan Press Foundation, 48 of them were killed in a targeted killing. Their cases linger on as since 2003 when American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan, and 2013, trials in only five cases were concluded.

Within a month of the attack, the Garden Town police said they arrested six people, alleged attackers of Rumi. According to Garden Town police investigation officer of the case, Haider, the gang, led by Abdul RaufGujjar belonged to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

The pursuit of the case endangered the lives of the family of deceased Mustafa, as they received a threat from the militants. Since then, they have gone underground, while Rumi underwent his own share of trauma.
“I remained scared; would often see nightmare and the body of deceased Mustafa haunted me; I suffered sleeplessness. Even now I’m suffering from trauma.”

In the US, the Committee to Protect Journalists and many other organisations supported Rumi. He sought trauma counselling.

“For the journalist undergoing the trauma must undergo psychological counselling. It helps a lot. These sessions helped me overcome post-trauma disorder. It is an ongoing process. One may live with trauma, guilt for life if no psychological help is arranged.”

What was the biggest consequence of the attack?

“Displacement. Coming to the US was never on my mind. In fact, I left a cushy job abroad in 2008 to return to Pakistan and pursue journalism. I miss my country, my community, my passion to do journalistic work with my people in Pakistan.”

According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting sources, a draft of Journalists Safety, Security and Protection Bill, 2018 has been prepared for the welfare of the journalists. The bill is in the process of consultations. According to the draft, sources said, the journalists and non-journalists workers coming under attack would be provided with both medical and legal aid from a fund. The ministry has disbursed Rs30,573,570 since 2015 to journalists and media workers. The proposed bill also extends aid to the families of journalists and media houses employees who are killed while on duty. The draft bill also ensures the investigation of crime or threats against journalists.

After five years of the attack, now Rumi is able to spend a few months in Pakistan.

“My last visit was three months long.”

He still avoids public life here while being in Pakistan.

“Had my attackers been punished, I would have felt a sigh of relief.”

His case was trialled in the military court, and in 2016, the military court sentenced them to death. The convicted men have approached superior courts to reverse the judgements.
“I want justice for the attackers too. First, one has to be absolutely sure if they’re the real attackers. Second, I don’t want a death sentence for them. I want justice, not revenge.”

Rumi lives in the US, while his heart is in Pakistan.

“Many advised me to seek asylum but I’m not willing to do that. Instead, I chose a long term visa that would enable me to work here. My identity will always be that of a Pakistani. I’m prouder of who I’m.”


Pakistani rupee exchange rate to US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 4 Dec  2023

Pakistani rupee's value remained stable against US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, Riyal and other currencies in the open market.

Dollar Rate in Pakistan Today

On Monday, the US dollar was being quoted at 285.15 for buying and 287.95 for selling.

Euro rate stands at 309.9 for buying and 310.5 for selling. British Pound GBP rate stands at 359.4 for buying, and 360.05 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED currently hovers around 77.45 while rate of Saudi Riyal stands at 75.82.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan – 4 December 2023

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 285.15  287.95 
Euro EUR 309.9  310.5 
UK Pound Sterling GBP 359.4  360.05 
U.A.E Dirham AED 77.45 77.6
Saudi Riyal SAR 75.82 75.97
Australian Dollar AUD 187.72 188.22
Bahrain Dinar BHD 759.94 767.94
Canadian Dollar CAD 209.99 210.49
China Yuan CNY 39.78 39.88
Danish Krone DKK 41.95 42.05
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 36.38 36.48
Indian Rupee INR 3.39 3.5
Japanese Yen JPY 1.49 1.56
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 926.39 935.39
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 60.38 60.98
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.44 175.44
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.25 26.55
Omani Riyal OMR 742.16 750.18
Qatari Riyal QAR 78.5 79.2
Singapore Dollar SGD 212.45 212.95
Swedish Korona SEK 27.09 27.19
Swiss Franc CHF 325.38 325.88
Thai Bhat THB 8.05 8.09

Gold prices in Pakistan move down despite positive global cues

The gold remained under pressure as the precious metal moved down despite an upward trend in the international market.

Gold Rates in Pakistan Today - 4 December 2023

On the first day of the week, the price of a single tola of 24-karat gold stands at Rs217,000 and 10 grams of 24k gold costs Rs186,043 

A single tola of 22-karat gold costs Rs170,539, while 21 karat rate for each tola is Rs. 192,325 and the price of 18k gold is Rs164,850.

In the global market, gold prices hover at around $2086, gaining $14.44 on Monday.

Today Gold Rate in Pakistan

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Karachi PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Islamabad PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Peshawar PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Quetta PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Sialkot PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Attock PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Gujranwala PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Jehlum PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Multan PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Bahawalpur PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Gujrat PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Nawabshah PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Chakwal PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Hyderabad PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Nowshehra PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Sargodha PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Faisalabad PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720
Mirpur PKR 217,000 PKR 2,720


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