April 23, 2014
Gunmen have shot two Pakistani journalists just days apart, killing one in Mianwali on Tuesday, April 22 and wounding another in Karachi on Sunday.
The CJA joins journalist colleagues and human rights groups around the globe in mourning Mianwali journalist Shahzad Iqbal, killed by unidentified armed attackers. At the weekend Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir was shot and seriously injured when his car was ambushed in Karachi. He survived six bullet wounds.
The second shooting fortifies demands for purposeful action at all levels of government, law, police and community – and for revived Commonwealth and international action.
Iqbal and Mir are just the latest in a wave of attacks against the profession – in Pakistan and far beyond – highlighting impunity that has been all but ignored by authorities.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is reported to have ordered a three-member judicial inquiry on the Hamid Mir attack. Earlier this year, a Pakistan court convicted six in the 2011 shooting of Geo TV journalist Wali Khan Babar.
These small steps are not enough. Rural Media Network Pakistan says nine other Pakistani journalists and media workers have been killed this year. But the problem goes beyond awful killings and is not confined to Pakistan.
The impunity associated with these brutal attacks on journalists and a free media reaches into government, corporations and religion.
Indeed, the impunity enjoyed by the killers is a Commonwealth-wide issue, varying only in degree of horror and disgrace.
The deadly treatment of journalists results in devastating dangers to democracy and more specifically, to innocent citizens. It must stop.
The CJA again calls for enlightened politicians, civil servants, police and legal communities to challenge impunity of attacks on journalists. All must be held accountable, be they perpetrators or those turning a blind eye.
The CJA also repeats its position that where member countries fail to take verifiable steps to protect journalists, the Commonwealth Secretariat should sever aid at corporate and/or national levels, or suspend Commonwealth membership.