In the line of duty: Pakistan deadliest in South Asia for journalists

Report presents a grim reminder of the threats surrounding the profession.

Express December 29, 2010

ISLAMABAD: At least twelve journalists lost their lives in the line of duty during 2010 in different parts of the country. This was revealed in the annual report “South Asia Media Monitor 2010” released by South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) and Media Commission Pakistan (MCP) here on Tuesday.

SAMC Vice President Afzal Khan presented the report at South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Centre, where a large number of journalists, intellectuals and members of civil society were present.

According to the report, at least 20 journalists were killed in South Asia, with Pakistan ranking as the deadliest country in the region to practice the profession. Three journalists were killed in Nepal, two in Afghanistan and two in India.

Half of the Pakistani journalists were killed as a direct result of attacks on public gatherings. Those who died included a correspondent of Mehran TV Ashiq Ali Mangi, correspondent of Independent News of Pakistan Fiaz Muhammad Khan Sasoli, Hangu based journalist Haji Misri Khan Orakzai, correspondent of Daily Pakistan Mujeebur Rehman Siddiqui, Khuzdar Press Club President Muhammad Khan Sasoli, and Abdul Hameed Hayatan from Royal TV.

The victims of suicide bombing in Kohat and Quetta were cameraman Arif Malik, Samaa TV reporter Azmat Ali Bangash.  Samaa TV cameraman Ejaz Ahmed Raisani and AAJ TV driver Muhammad Sarwar were killed during the Al Quds rally in Quetta, Express TV reporter Abdul Wahab and Waqt TV’s Pervez Khan died in the bombing of a peace jirga in Mohmand Agency, while satellite technician Ijaz-ul-Haq died of bullet wounds during an attack on an Ahmadi Mosque.

Many journalists were also kidnapped by militants and security forces in the tribal areas.

Freelance journalist Muhammad Rasheed was kidnapped by the Taliban and following his release, was held for 70 days by security forces who wrongly suspected him of being an informant. Bajaur based journalist Imran Khan and documentary producer Asad Qureshi were also kidnapped, while The News reporter Umar Cheema and SAFMA Chief Coordinator Sirmed Manzoor were both tortured by security forces.

Senior journalist Imtiaz Gul said the media has become sandwiched between state and non-state actors and is threatened by both sides.

A large number of media persons migrate from tribal areas to save their lives amid imminent threats.

Afzal Khan said that the death toll of journalists is alarming and this report provides analytical and comprehensive information on the real factors behind their deaths.

He pinpointed that there are certain grey areas in Baluchistan and FATA where the threats to their lives seriously hinders the performance of their professional duties.

Senior journalist Matiullah Jan suggested having an independent body to investigate the killings of working journalists.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2010.


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