ISLAMABAD (Online) – Those who murdered, injured or assaulted journalists were never punished in Pakistan, says a report issued by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF).
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In the report titled “Safety of Media Workers”, PPF says since 2001, 47 media workers have been murdered, 164 injured, 88 assaulted, 21 abducted and 40 detained. In addition, 24 media professionals died while covering dangerous assignments. However, there have been convictions in only two cases out of 384 cases of violence against media, the report said.
According to the report, since 2001, 21 journalists and media workers were killed in Balochistan, 19 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 9 in FATA, 15 in Sindh, 4 in Punjab and 3 in Islamabad.
The two convictions by courts were in Sindh for the murder of Daniel Pearl of Wall Street Journal and Wali Babar of Geo Television.
In both the cases, the federal and provincial governments seriously perused the cases because of pressure from the media organisations of the slain journalists.
Apart from murders and killings, the largest number of cases of violence against media occurred in the province of Sindh. Out of a total of 164 journalists and media workers injured and assaulted since 2001, 91 were in Sindh.
Surprisingly the second place in these categories with 70 assaults was Islamabad, which was largely due to the assault on large number of media practitioners by supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) during the Dharna in 2014.
48 media practitioners were injured and assaulted in Punjab, 23 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 14 in Balochistan.
This reluctance to hold those who use violence against media professionals exists even in high profile cases such as that of murderous attack on Hamid Mir in 2014, and the murders of journalists Saleem Shahzad in 2011 and Hayatullah Khan in 2006. In all three cases high profile commissions were set up but the result has been nil.
Hamid Mir of Geo Television received six bullet wounds when he was attacked in Karachi in April 2014. The government set up a judicial and it was supposed to submit a report in 21 days. However, eighteen months have passed and the commission has still not submitted the report. Meanwhile, Mir and other journalists continue to receive threats and face a sense of increasing insecurity.
Cases that are not high profile are covered up at the local level. One such example is that of the fatal shooting of Shan Dahar, reporter of “Abb Takk” TV channel on the night of December 31, 2013 in Badh, in Larkana district. He was shot in his back and was taken to the hospital where he remained unattended until he succumbed to his injuries many hours later on January 1, 2014.
The PPF report emphasises that free media is essential to democracy in Pakistan and for promoting transparency and accountability, a prerequisite of sustained economic uplift and that the impunity enjoyed by those who attack Pakistani media is seriously hampering independent journalism in Pakistan.