The Pakistan Rangers have refused to give any reaction to the devastating verdict on their institution in the infamous Sarfraz Shah case.
Spokesperson Major Farooq Bilal said that any reaction would come from the lawyers defending their six personnel.
Meanwhile, Awaz TV cameraman Abdul Salam Soomro, who had filmed the extra-judicial murder, remains underground because there are serious threats to his life. Journalist bodies and associations have taken steps to provide the Sindhi TV channel cameraman protection.
Karachi Press Club president Tahir Hasan, who was involved in these efforts, said the cameraman’s whereabouts could not be disclosed for security reasons.
He said these are dangerous times for journalists who face threats from several quarters for exposing the truth. “The sad part of this whole episode is that a majority of the media houses are not playing a part to protect their journalists,” he said.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists’ Amin Yusuf seconded Hasan’s stance and said the Sarfraz Shah case has also brought to light the role of media organisations. “Many of the media houses have no concern for the protection of their journalists,” he said. Yusuf stressed the need for capacity building and training journalists who are working in a conflict zone. He pointed out that media organisations don’t provide life insurance for their workers.
He said the PFUJ supported the verdict of the court. However, Yusuf said he didn’t believe that it would lead to a change in the attitudes of law enforcement agencies such as the Pakistan Rangers.
“Perhaps incidents such as the Sarfraz Shah case will become less frequent for some time, but I don’t believe such excesses will stop.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.