ISLAMABAD: The government has announced a financial assistance programme of Rs1 million for families of journalists killed in the line of duty and Rs0.3 million for the injured. This was stated by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid while addressing the first day of an international conference on security of journalists at a hotel on Tuesday.
The minister added that a ‘journalist endowment fund’ has also been established for the welfare of journalists and their families.
At the conference, a report titled ‘State of Media in Pakistan: Key Trends of 2014 and Main Challenges in 2015,’ was launched wherein it was mentioned that the year 2014 was the worst ever in the history of Pakistan for media with the highest number of casualties as 14 journalists, media assistants and a blogger were killed for their work and dozens injured, kidnapped and intimidated.
The report further revealed that over 100 journalists and media workers have been killed in the line of duty in Pakistan since 2000 and over 2,000 injured, kidnapped, arrested or harassed and intimidated in the same period.
Former Executive Editor of The Express Tribune, Muhammad Ziauddin, said the entire country has become a war zone since 2005 and safety was now a primary concern. “Reporting from Fata, Peshawar, Balochistan and Karachi is very difficult these days,” he said.
Talking about the war on terror, the minister said the government was committed to provide security to working journalists and media houses as a conducive environment was essential for them to perform their duty without fear and intimidation.
“The terrorists want to change the way we live our lives and impose their own skewed ideology. Our enemies are both invisible and devoid of any rules or value,” he said, adding that the war against terrorists was to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national solidarity and security of the citizens.
The government has taken several steps for the well being of the journalists’ community in order to provide them an environment where they can perform their duties without any fear, he said, adding that a committee has been formed for this purpose and its first meeting is being held today.
The speakers urged all stakeholders to focus on the importance of ending impunity for crimes against journalists and make laws for their safety as it appears, at the moment, that the cost of killing a journalist is almost nothing in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2015.
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