SWAT: As many already consider Pakistan one of the most dangerous places for journalists, it would not be wrong to say that Swat valley is fraught with peril. Since the days of Taliban rule, journalists have not only been threatened, harassed and beaten up, but also ruthlessly tortured and killed. It did not end, even when peace prevails, as security forces harassed and tortured local journalists.
Yet again, two more local journalists were brutally beaten up by Levies personnel on Saturday, as they rushed to cover the tragic deaths of three men who fell down a well in Chail Shagi, Saidu Sharif.
Both of the journalists were cameramen, and were severely beaten up and had their cameras broken by a dozen Levies officials. Their only fault was to overtake a Levies mobile pickup serving as part of the District Coordination Officer’s (DCO) convoy.
In a similar incident two weeks ago, Express TV Reporter Sherin Zada was also beaten up by the security forces, when he was on his way to cover a musical show at Kalam. After this incident, the journalists’ community decided to boycott every security forces activity in Swat.
“Journalists in Swat face hard times. They are earnestly working to help improve society and expose the weaknesses and corruption of the authorities. That’s why they are harassed and tortured. High officials are surely involved in these detestable activities. We, the journalists’ community, strongly condemn these acts and demand that the high authorities stop torturing journalists,” said Swat Press Club Deputy General Secretary Niaz Ahmed Khan.
After the incident, Swat DCO Kamran Rehman condemned the act by the Levies and suspended them all. He expressed his sympathies with the injured journalists and also visited them in the hospital. “Journalists in Swat have played a vital role in the restoration of peace and development. Strict action will be taken against the offenders,” he said. After the incident, a wave of anger spread across the journalists’ community and civil society, all of whom condemned the incident and demanded that the authorities put an end to such abuse.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.
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