Pakistan appears to be living up to its designation by Reporters Without Borders and other rights groups as one of the deadliest countries in which to practice journalism. So far, 2014 has witnessed the deaths of four media workers.
Last week, three Taliban gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed three employees of Pakistan’s Express News TV. Earlier in the month, unidentified gunmen opened fire on Shan Odhor, a senior journalist with the Aaab Tak News Channel. The Secretary General of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has condemned the incident and warned that these attacks won’t stop Pakistan’s journalists from speaking the truth. He also announced a 10-day period of mourning for the slain media workers.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) this week wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, calling on him to take serious action to protect his country’s journalists and bring attackers to justice.
“It is time that the Sharif government took its obligations seriously, to ensure justice is done and that the media is able to operate in Pakistan without fear of deadly reprisal,” the IFJ letter read. As long as impunity runs rife in Pakistan, journalists and media workers will continue to die.”
“The government of Pakistan has failed in its duties to protect media workers when the realities for them are all too apparent. It has failed to bring killers to justice and yet these brave journalists continue to try to do their jobs knowing death is a real repercussion.” IFJ letter to PM Nawaz Sharif, Jan. 21, 2014.
As of this posting, IFJ says it has not received any response to its letter, but insists “the government must respond and the media must be protected.”
Express News was attacked twice in 2013. Last August, four gunmen on motorcycles fired more than 30 rounds into its Karachi office , injuring two staff members. In another attack December 2, assailants opened fire on and threw homemade bombs at the same office, injuring a security guard.
Express News says that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the latest attack in a phone call to anchor Javed Chaudhry. The TTP accuses Pakistani media of spreading “venomous propaganda” against them.
Meanwhile, a regional Taliban spokesman told Reuters, “We will continue to target the media if they do not stop propaganda against Islam and the Taliban.”