Journalists’ safety

The lack of accountability only emboldens those who seek to silence the media through fear and violence

Editorial May 28, 2024


The recent murder of journalist Nasrullah Gadani in Ghotki District is a disturbing reminder of the dangers faced by those who work to bring important information to the public. Gadani, a reporter for a Sindhi language newspaper, was known for his courageous reporting about the abuses of power attributed to local feudals and other powerful individuals.

Gadani was among hundreds of journalists who face legitimate threats to life and limb every day because of the failure of the state to provide security or respect press freedom. The repeated failure of law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice is unacceptable. The lack of accountability only emboldens those who seek to silence the media through fear and violence.

Journalists’ unions have rightfully called for protests and demanded the arrest of the killers, but unfortunately, few among us have any confidence that protests will push the authorities into action, because the same authorities often have a hand in the plight of journalists. Meanwhile, our political class remains dominated by feudal lords and pseudo-feudal industrialists who also roam around with private armies, threatening reporters for asking even the simplest questions, or thrashing regular folks for not moving out of their way. Some of them talk a big game when in opposition, but when elected, they become “predators of press freedom” or introduce backward laws to proverbially shoot the messengers.

It is also notable that the vast majority of killings and other reported attacks on journalists have been in rural Sindh, where the PPP — which prides itself on its pro-press freedom credentials — has been in power for almost two decades. Though the provincial government did set up a Commission for the Protection of Journalists, its members flatly admit to having little power, while the local police and courts blame each other for the absence of justice. Whatever anyone’s share of responsibility, without radical and honest change, the truth and its heralds will continue to suffer.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2024.

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