Pakistan Journalist Safety Fund (PJSF) helps families of journalist killed in line of duty in a bombing in Balochistan
QUETTA (Balochistan, Pakistan), January 26, 2013: The new year began with more bad tidings for media Balochistan, the southwestern province of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran, when three journalists were killed and at least one injured in a single incident of bombing in provincial capital Quetta on January 10, 2013. At least 20 journalists from Balochistan have been killed in violence over the past 5 years in incidents of terror and target killings.
The journalists – Reporter Saif ur Rehman, Cameraman Mohammad Imran and Photojournalist Mohammad Iqbal – were killed in the bomb explosions at Alamdar Road, a neighbourhood populated by the Shia Hazara community that has been a target of terror attacks in recent years.
The two bombs that exploded within a few minutes of each other left more than 80 dead. The journalists had rushed to the scene after a bomb explosion. While they were covering the incident, a second bomb exploded, killing three journalists and injuring one. In recent years, several journalists have lost their lives in twin bombings aimed at drawing crowds to the scene after a bomb explosion – involving the media rushing to break the news – and causing huge casualties with a second.
Intermedia Pakistan, that manages the Pakistan Journalists Safety Fund (PJSF) in collaboration with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), responded by assisting the families of the journalists. At a condolence meeting organized by the Council of Balochistan Editors (CBE) on January 26, 2013, senior members of the Quetta Press Club and the Balochistan Union of Journalists handed over the cheques to the family members of the deceased on behalf of the Pakistan Journalists Safety Fund.
“This is not the first time that our colleagues have become victims of the race for breaking news,” says BUJ President Essa Tareen. “But we have failed to learn a lesson. Had we closed our ranks and made it clear to everyone that breaking news is killing journalists, we would not be here mourning our dead colleagues.”
After the incident, the Quetta Press Club and Balochistan Union of Journalists decided that in case of terror attacks or bombings in future, journalists will first gather at the press club and only afterwards go to the scene to allow enough time to establish that it is safe to cover the event. The journalists, it was emphasized at the meeting, also need to respect the security measures taken by the police such as cordoning off of the scene and covering the event from a distance to ensure safety.
Colleagues that paid respect and tributes to the dead journalists at the condolence gathering also underlined the need for safety and security measures for the media such as insurance of journalists, a collective stand on discouraging the trend of breaking news, safety trainings and ensuring safety measures and practices while working in a hostile environment.
Saleem Shahid, the president of Quetta Press Club, said that Balochistan has turned out to be the most dangerous place for media personnel in Pakistan.
The condolence reference, organized by the Council of Balochistan Editors (CBE), was attended by senior journalists, including Shahzada Zulfikar, and people from different segments of society. Addressing the occasion, CBE President Dr Nashnas Lehri said: “We pay tribute to our slain journalist brothers who demonstrated bravery while discharging their professional duty.”
The Pakistan Journalist Safety Fund (PJSF) has helped dozens of journalists, and families of those killed, with various forms of assistance ranging from financial aid to medical assistance, and from legal help to in-country relocation of journalists under threat. The PJSF is managed by Intermedia Pakistan and financial assistance for the Safety Fund is provided by International Media Support (IMS).