Pakistan tops the list of South Asian countries where journalists have died in the line of duty, according to the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) report for 2013. Ten journalists died in Pakistan, followed by eight in India, three in Afghanistan and one in Bangladesh this year.
A year end media freedom roundup issued by SAMC, a media rights watchdog, from the capitals of all member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), noted with dismay that violence against media personnel continued to remain a major threat to media freedom.
SAMC noted that the media faced edicts or threats from different quarters, particularly where diverse points of view were not tolerated. Additionally, with layoffs in the industry, the report noted that journalists still struggle for fair wages and decent working conditions.
In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal principally, established laws on the protection of living standards are being breached with little consequence, according to the SAMC. In other countries such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Afghanistan, the struggle is underway for securing protections under the law for wages and working conditions of those working in the media.
The report added that journalists in Balochistan and the tribal areas faced intimidation. Those killed during the year 2013 included journalists from private media organisations and the vernacular press.
The situation in Afghanistan saw a sharp increase in violence and threats against journalists including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and India. In India, eight journalists were killed while an acid attack on a journalist in Parbhani, Maharashtra, and an attempt to burn alive another journalist in Kolkata, West Bengal were part of the 19 instances of attacks on journalists in 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2013.