The killing of 12 journalists in Pakistan this year marked the heaviest loss in a single nation worldwide. Overall, the South Asia region saw 17 journalists slain for their work, with three others in India and two in Afghanistan, according to a report released by South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) here on Friday.
Of the 12 journalists that lost their lives, eight were clearly targeted for performing their duties, said the report. Wali Khan Babar of Geo News, Nasrullah Afridi who worked for PTV and Daily Mashriq, Asia Times Online correspondent Saleem Shahzad, Akhbar-e-Khyber’s Asfandyar Khan, Shafiullah Khan of The News, Online News Network reporter Munir Shakir, London Post Editor Faisal Qureshi, and Javed Naseer Rind, a senior sub editor and columnist for Daily Tawar, fell victim to target killings, suicide bombings and the wrath of the security apparatus, said the report.
It has not yet been ascertained whether Ilyas Nazar, a reporter with the Baloch-language Darwanth magazine, Daily Eagle’s Abdost Rind, Rahmatullah Shaheen and Daily Extra News reporter Zaman Ibrahim were targeted due to their journalistic work.
Given the high casualty rate in Pakistan, the International Federation of Journalists has yet again tagged Pakistan as the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist and the Committee to Protect Journalists has also called it one the deadliest place in the world for journalists. In 2010, the South Asia Monitor reported the killings of 19 journalists and one media worker in South Asia.
“Journalists’ organisations in Pakistan and around the world have demanded a genuine inquiry into all these killings,” the report said, adding that the case of Saleem Shahzad is a reminder of the vulnerability of journalists, especially when the country’s law enforcement agencies — those responsible for finding the killers — are themselves suspected of complicity.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2011.