Under attack: Journalists discuss attacks, threats and dangers posed in the line of duty

Speakers want training for reporters to cope with danger.

September 05, 2014

KARACHI: As attacks on journalists continue unabated, the media fraternity took to the podium to highlight the need for the government to formulate safety measures for those under threat.

Speakers at a seminar, titled ‘Media Ethics in Time of Threat’ organised on Thursday by Rozan, the secretariat of the Pakistan Coalition for Ethical Journalism, in collaboration with the Arts Council of Pakistan, said that journalists must be trained to cope with danger.

Adnan Rehmat, the director of the Civic Action Resources and author of the book ‘Reporting Under Threat’, narrated four selected stories from his book.

“There were only 2,000 working journalists across the country 10 years ago,” he said. “But now we have over 18,000.” He claimed that 612 killings of journalists were reported from all over the world last year, of which 10 per cent were from Pakistan alone.

The minefield

Attacks on journalists have increased since 2002, they said, adding that the government does not even bother to trace those responsible.

The speakers discussed different threats and responses of the government. They said that the nature of threats is changing with the passage of time.

“Journalists were being attacked by militants and unorganised groups in the past,” said Rehmat. “But state actors have also been involved since the last three years.”

Javed Shah, a Larkana-based reporter, who was under threat and whose story has been included in Rehmat’s book, said that reporters in small cities and rural areas face different kinds of threats.

“We have to work under threats because there is no mechanism,” he said. “The government doesn’t respond promptly and even killers are not traced.”

Ayub Tareen, a Quetta-based journalist who left his native town after threats to his life, narrated his story. He shared how he and his family are disturbed. “I don’t know what my future is,” he said, hardly being able to contain his emotions.

“Islamabad is a beautiful city but one can’t like it when you have to live there because you are forced to do so,” he said. “I feel like a stranger in the city. My heart and soul are in my Quetta.”

Pointing out the recent killing of Quetta-based reporter Irshad Mastoi, Tareen said that Balochistan is more vulnerable for journalists than any other province in Pakistan.

“The state doesn’t guarantee security,” he said, adding that journalists have to take security measures themselves.

Talking about how to handle the challenges posed to journalists, the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology mass communication department chairperson, Prof Tauseef Ahmed Khan, suggested that journalists should receive appropriate training.

“I don’t see a stable condition in Pakistan but I believe that such incidents will decrease if reporters and cameramen are given appropriate trainings,” he said. He added that except for a few select media houses, no appropriate measures, such as life insurance, have been taken care of.

The seminar was attended by students of different universities, university teachers and journalists from Karachi, Hyderabad and others cities.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2014.



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