The life of a journalist seems to be in perpetual peril. The correspondent of an English-language daily in Umerkot is the latest among the journalist community to have faced physical assault. More than two dozen armed men entered by force the house of AB Arisar located in the desert region on Wednesday and subjected his family to severe torture. The house inmates told reporters that 15 men armed with axes, sticks and hammers barged into the house after breaking open locks, subjected them to torture, and dragged them out to occupy the premises. While the apparent motive of the invasion appears unrelated to the journalist’s professional work, the fact that his existence is vulnerable to attacks by miscreants tells us just how under death-defying environment our journos carry out their work.
Journalists in Pakistan continue to face violence amid a worryingly escalating climate of intimidation and harassment. No surprise then that Pakistan has only marginally slipped — three notches — on the World Press Freedom index for the year 2020, reaching 145th position out of 180 countries. Reporters Without Borders shines a dismal light on the state of media in the country. It says media outlets in Pakistan have been threatened with the withdrawal of advertising. The signals of TV channels that gave airtime to opposition representatives have been jammed. Journalists who dared to broach subjects deemed off-limits have been subjected to harassment campaigns. It goes on to describe how journalists continue to be at risk in the field, especially in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where reporters are caught in the crossfire between the security forces and militants. Four journalists and a blogger were killed in connection with their reporting in 2019, while one journalist was killed in 2020.
As has been emphasized umpteen times in these columns, the impunity with which journalists are made target of violence must come to an end.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2020.
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