The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) has expressed grave concern over the pathetic condition of journalist safety in Pakistan, where the media is passing through the worst time of its 67 year history.
Journalists, TV anchors, media houses and media workers are under constant threat from militants, intelligence agencies, religious extremists, land mafia, feudal leaders, ethnic groups, corrupt politicians and officials. The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) has demanded Premier Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to recognize November 2 as a National Day of Action Against Impunity in Pakistan. The day is being observed as the UN International Day to End Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists.
President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Khan Sehar said that despite the much-publicized announcement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his government is setting up a media commission for safety and security earlier this year, 14 Pakistani journalists and media workers have been killed this year and Pakistan has become one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the world.
Since 2000, 115 Pakistani journalists have been killed while more than 2,000 were tortured, arrested, intimidated and attacked. During the last fourteen years the killers of just two journalists – Daniel Pearl and Wali Khan Babar – were arrested, but all six prosecuting witnesses for the Wali Babar murder case were killed.
The President RMNP expressed his dismay that there is complete silence and no further action has been taken to investigate the murder cases of journalists, even after the promise made by the Prime Minister. Intimidations and threats to journalists from different groups continue and media houses have asked their staff not to be harsh while criticizing militant and extremist groups. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had assured in his meeting with the US based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in April this year that “I want to make Pakistan a journalist friendly country where not only national but international media should feel safe and respected.”
Government has yet to decide which practical measures will be taken in future for safety and security of journalists in a country where its own writ is vanishing rapidly, he stated.
Though it is said that the media is all powerful, it is too weak to defend itself against physical violent attacks. A major media group used some journalists who have good ties with the Jihadi groups to arrange a truce with them. Otherwise, they had open threats to blow up their offices, it was disclosed by President RMNP. In this hopeless situation Ehsan Ahmed Khan Sehar wants government to take some urgent measures to secure the media and journalists.
President Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) Ehsan Ahmed Sehar also highlighted the significant dangers facing journalists in different areas of the country, referring to killing of 14 journalists and media worker during last ten months, and demanded an end to the impunity which continues to abound in Pakistan. President RMNP expressed his solidarity with Hamid Mir, Raza Romi and all other journalists who were attacked. He also condemned threats to Imtiaz Alam and Ansar Abbasi, the arrest of local journalist Suhail Khan in Bahawalnagar, and the killing of two journalists Nadeem Haider and Yaqoob Shehzad in the first week of October in Hafizabad. He mentioned the fact that Pakistan has been identified as one of the focus countries for the UN’s Plan of Action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, a decision which was welcomed by all Pakistani media watch dogs. President RMNP stated that Pakistan’s media is urban oriented, but during last decade the majority of killed journalists belong from small towns and rural areas.