LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the assassination of a journalist in Charsadda and expressed concern that despite official assurances, journalist killings have continued across the country.
Mukarram Khan Atif, who worked for the Voice of America among other media organisations, was gunned down on Tuesday by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants who said that the journalist was killed for creating anti-Taliban propaganda in the foreign media.
It is exceedingly unfortunate that despite repeated assurances by the government to protect journalists, a senior journalist was killed, said a HRCP statement released on Wednesday. “The TTP’s acceptance of responsibility for the ghastly deed and its admission that the victim was targeted for his professional work underlines the perils journalists are increasingly being exposed to.”
At least 17 journalists and media workers were killed in Pakistan in 2011, the HRCP said, and one has already been killed in the first month of 2012. “That Pakistan is a perilous place for journalists is old news, since we have been labelled the most dangerous country in the world for a few years running now. All indications suggest that this too would be a bad year for Pakistani journalists.”
Mentioning Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s advice to journalists last year that they should arm themselves for their own safety, the HRCP said that journalists and civil society still expects that authorities should show more resolve in protecting journalists and tracking down their killers.
“The government must realise that if it has tried anything to ensure protection for journalists, it clearly has not worked. It is not entirely unreasonable for journalists to question the government’s commitment to protecting them in view of its failure to bring to justice the killers of even one of the many journalists killed during its tenure,” the statement said.