LONDON: According to the report of ‘Amnesty International’, a world renowned human rights organization, the journalists are under serious threat from state security forces, armed opposition and other groups, particularly in Balochistan and Sindh provinces, and the north-west tribal areas.

The AI report claims that a number of journalists have been in Pakistan threatened for reporting on the military, political parties or armed groups, whereas the concerned authorities have always failed to provide security to the press and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Pakistan researcher of AI, Mustafa Qadri told reporters that his organisation has received credible reports of threats to and attacks on journalists because of their coverage of the elections and alleged vote-rigging by some political parties.

“Pakistan has a very poor record in protecting journalists from attacks and as far as we’re aware no one has been prosecuted for killing a journalist since the case of Daniel Pearl in 2002. Failure to address these attacks sends a signal that the perpetrators—be they political parties or other groups – can literally get away with murder. It obviously has a profound impact on freedom of expression in Pakistan because the media plays a critical role in informing the people and keeping the powerful accountable.

Unfortunately, some members of political parties feel they have a licence to use violence to influence the media. Threats to and attacks on journalists are a human rights abuse without any justification,” he said.

At the launch of its 2013 annual report at its London headquarters, the Amnesty International’s Secretary General Shalil Shetty gave examples of journalist attack. At least eight journalists were killed during the year.

Amnesty International quoted certain incidents in the report which are illustrated below.

  • Journalist Mukarram Aatif was shot dead during evening prayers in a mosque in Charsadda city on 17 January. He had earlier resettled there from his native Mohmand Tribal Agency following death threats over his reporting from the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the killing.
  • On 19 May, the bullet-riddled body of a local News Channel correspondent Razzaq Gul was found dumped on the outskirts of Turbat, Balochistan. He had been kidnapped the previous day. The authorities failed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • Senior broadcaster Hamid Mir escaped an assassination attempt in November when a bomb under his car failed to detonate. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempt.

The report further illustrated that the Pakistan government occasionally blocked websites, including YouTube and Facebook, without explanation or for content deemed offensive to religious sentiments. The courts threatened to bring criminal proceedings against journalists under contempt of court laws for reports criticizing the judiciary.

By Aqsa Ishaq, for Aaj.tv

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