Pakistani journalists live in growing fear of violence, says RMNP Annual Press Freedom Report

One hundred twenty four journalists and media workers have been killed in Pakistan since 2000 out of which 4 were killed in 2015. In 2014, fourteen journalists were murdered in the line of duty which reflects that impunity against Pakistani media rises to unacceptable levels. According to the figures compiled by the Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) two Pakistani journalists and media workers have been killed up to the end of April this year.RMNP Annual Press Freedom Report Extracts UrduThis was stated in annual press freedom report released by President Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) Ehsan Ahmed Sehar on the eve of World Press Freedom Day ( May 3,2016). Report reveals that Pakistan has improved its position as the result of a decline in murders of journalists in 2015 and current year 2016., however in 2015 , several media houses, DSNG vans of different channels were attacked, dozens of journalists working in small towns and rural areas had been arrested. and tortured. Last year several Pakistani journalists were forced to flee or go into hiding to escape acts of violence and intimidation that usually go unpunished. The authorities have not kept their promise to protect media personnel and are sometimes even responsible for these abuses. The media themselves also often find that their work is hampered by restrictions and censorship attempts by local government officials and political groups On 13 May, the Pakistan Press Council sent a directive to the print media via the All Pakistan Newspaper Society saying “acute care should be taken to avoid negative comments” about the crisis in Yemen in order not to threaten Pakistan’s friendship with the countries that are members of the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen. As a result of a decision by the government of the Azad Kashmir, Geo News was banned from broadcasting from 1 to 29 June for showing a map of Pakistan that excluded the disputed Indian-controlled region of Jammu and Kashmir in its programme “Today with Shahzeb Khanzada.” ,The biggest challenge apart from direct threat to the life of journalists in Pakistan is a culture of impunity.”The killers of only three journalists US Correspondent Daniel Pearl, GEO TV Karachi reporter Wali Khan Babar and Ayub Khattak of Khyber Pakkhtunkhwa out of the 124 journalists killed in Pakistan have been arrested.. This promoted impunity and allowed anyone to threaten and target journalists because they know they can get away with murder. Journalists often complain about receiving threats, including from the country’s intelligence agencies which can lead to violent attacks against them.Due to this alarming situation, Pakistan has been identified as one of the five pilot countries for the implementation of UN’s Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.. RMNP report says that two journalists were killed in Khyber-Pakhtunhkhwa province during January 2016…According to the monitoring of the Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP), a suicide bomb attack on the outskirts of Peshawar killed journalist Mehboob Shah Afridi, 33, of Aaj TV at the Jamrud Check Point, in Khyber Agency, on Tuesday, January 19. The attack also resulted in the deaths of at least a dozen others at the scene. Meanwhile on Saturday, January 16, unidentified gunmen shot dead journalist Muhammad Umar at grid road near Niazi Chowk, Dera Ismail Khan, a city also in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Umar sustained critical injuries and died on arrival at the District Headquarters Hospital. Umar was crimes reporter of daily newspaper, “Dera News”He was 26 years old. Slain journalist left behind a widow and three kids. Press Freedom Report further stated that Rangers officials raided the house of Salman Masood The Nation’s Resident Editor in Islamabad in the morning of 13th January 2016, looking to search the premises. The officials arrived without any documents or warrant and said that a “terrorist search operation is underway”. A civilian man among the officials said he is from the “intelligence” without revealing his identity. The officials reiterated that it was a routine search operation. Masood, who is also the Pakistan Correspondent of New York Times, is the second high profile NYT journalist targeted in recent times. Declan Walsh, the then NYT bureau chief was black listed in the year 2013, and asked to leave Pakistan. It was Walsh’s report in NYT that unveiled the multi-million dollar fake degree scam at Axact last year. One man was injured on January 13,2016, Wednesday after unidentified men hurled a grenade at ARY News office in Islamabad. According to report , two masked men threw a grenade at an office of ARY News channel in the capital Islamabad , injuring one media person who was is said to be a non-linear editor in the private TV channel..Daesh Afghanistan – an acronym for the self-styled Islamic State group – had claimed responsibility for the attack, as reported by ARY News. Annual Press Freedom Report highlights several attacks on independent TV channels in 2015 .As per details , two individuals on a motorcycle threw a homemade bomb at the bureau of the TV news channel Express News in Sargodha, Punjab province , on 7 December, injuring a security guard and damaging one of its vehicles. Express News is regarded as a liberal news organization and has been the target of previous attacks that were claimed by the Taliban. The Sargodha attack came just six days after militants threw a grenade at the Din News channel’s office in gulberg of Lahore,Punjab province injuring two employees and two policemen. They also scattered Islamic State leaflets threatening to continue attacking media outlets until they “revert to neutral journalism” and “side with truth that is Sharia and Islam.”The attackers fled on a motorcycle and since then no arrests have been made. An arson attack on Gawahi Television, a Christian Web TV station in Karachi city , on 24 November 2015 destroyed its studios and computer equipment. The station had been the target of threats, which were reported to the Karachi authorities. Surveillance cameras had been installed, but they were also destroyed by the fire. Three Dunya News employees were injured when militants on a motorcycle threw a grenade at the TV station’s bureau in the city of Faisalabad Punjab province on the evening of 20 November. After the attackers fled, pamphlets of Islamic State’s Khorasan branch were found at the scene A Dawn News’ digital satellite news gathering (DSNG) van came under armed attack near Essa Nagri. Karachi on 28th November, Friday night, which left its engineer Muhammad Hassan injured in a second such assault on media in the city in less than three months.. A senior manager of Bol television was shot dead in an apparent attempt of car snatching in Karachi Ali Noman, the head of Bol’s Human Resource (HR) department, was gunned down in North Nazimabad Bock-E by unknown armed men who intercepted his vehicle and fired shots on him.He was on his way back home from office. Police and rescue official said Noman was shifted to hospital in critical condition; however, he could not survive due to fatal gunshot wounds. Unknown gunmen attacked a Geo News Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van in the Bahadurabad area of Karachi city on Tuesday night( September 8,2015) The driver and satellite engineer were injured in the attack and rushed to a local hospital for treatment. Geo News satellite engineer Arshad Ali Jafri succumbed to his injuries at the hospital..According to RMNP report. Arshad Ali Jafri, the technician, was shot seven times in the attack, and the driver was shot twice in the shoulder but managed to drive to a hospital, police told local newsmen. Two other Geo media workers near the van escaped injury.This ‘s attack is similar to one on an Express TV van in Karachi in January 2014 in which three media workers died when gunmen opened fire One person was killed and eight other wounded on January 17 while a remote control device exploded at Chani Goth Chakkar, a place 30 kilometers from RMNP head quarters killing a fruit vendor identified as Muhammad Imran while eight others identified as Riaz Ahmed, Farooq, Shahbaz, Shan, Akhter, Zafar, Waqas and Abdul Jabbar sustained multiple injuries. It has been learnt that an unidentified person came at the push-cart of a fruit vendor Rao Imran and placed a bag under his cart, with the request that he was going to toilet and will pick it up on return. When the suspect did not turn up, Imran informed the Chani Goth Police but in the meantime, the bomb exploded, killing him instantly. The roof of a nearby shop was collapsed and dozens of push-carts badly damaged. RMNP report discloses the killing of Senior sub-editor of Daily Waqt Mazhar Husain Joya was found dead in his house on November 27, 2015 . He belonged to Piplan village in Mianwali. He was alone in his house and was found dead by neighbours. Police were informed who sent the body for postmortem. Similarly Gunmen shot dead a senior journalist, HafeezurRehman, also chief editor of a daily newspaper, in district Kohat of KP province on November 22., the second such murder in the month of November in the tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The local journalist, Hafeezur Rehman, was 42-year-old..Hafeez hailing from Ghari Mawaz locality of Kohat city, was on his way home on Sunday November 22,2015, when allegedly armed motorcyclists opened fire on him. According to police, the incident took place in Bandha Chowk of Kalu Khan area where militants opened fire on Hafee who died on the spot while the assailants managed to flee. Police said he was hit by three bullets.”Attackers riding a motorcycle fired on Hafeez near his home on the outskirts of Kohat.Hafeez had been working as a journalist for 12 years. The deceased was chief editor of Daily Asia, was serving with a private TV channel as reporter and also owner of a local cable network in the name of New Star. Another local journalist Dr Muhammad Zaman Mehsud was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on 3rd November.Police sources told that Zaman was travelling from Gomal Bazar to Tank when his car came under attack on North Waziristan Road.Two motorcycle-riding armed men opened fire on his car and left him seriously injured.Area residents took Zaman to District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Dera Ismail Khan where the doctors pronounced him dead. Zaman Mehsud was a senior journalist who also served as the president and secretary general of the Tribal Union of Journalists’ South Waziristan chapter. Senior journalist Aftab Alam was killed Wedneday ( September 9,2015) when gunmen fired shots at his vehicle in North Karachi, in what police describe as the second targeted attack on a media worker in Karachi in the last 24 hours during the month of September 201 Alam was targeted outside his residence in 11-C area of North Karachi – minutes after he had dropped his children home from school The injured journalist was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. The medico-legal officer (MLO) at the Abbasi hospital confirmed Alam’s death.Doctors said that the senior journalist received a bullet wound in the face Alam has previously been associated with Geo News and KAI TV Channel in the past, and his death comes hours after gunmen attacked a Geo News DSNG van in Bahadurabad area, killing senior satellite engineer Arshad Ali Jafri and injuring the driver. Khyber Agency’s senior journalist Abdul Azam Shinwari sustained injuries in an attack by unidentified armed men in Peshawar.Police said unidentified armed men opened fire on the vehicle of Mr Shinwari in Hayatabad Phase-3 on Tuesday night at around 11 PM ( September 8, 2015)due to which the senior journalist from Landikotal area sustained a bullet wound in foot. He was taken to Hayatabad Medical Complex .It is pertinent to mention that Abdul Azam Shinwani had recently moved to Peshawar from Landi Kotal, his hometown in the nearby Tribal Areas, for security reasons. Zafarullah Jatak a correspondent for the Quetta based Urdu language daily “Intekhab was shot dead in his home in Jaffarabad, Balochistan province on Sunday 28th June, 2015.According to details he was sleeping when unidentified gunmen forced their way into his home and opened fire. Jatak was killed on the spot and the assailants fled the scene. On Sunday, June 29, journalists in Shikarpur in Sindh province staged a protest against the killing of Jatak and called on the government to take action, saying they had failed to protect journalists in Pakistan. RMNP report observers that Pakistani journalists live in growing fear of violence,quoting several incidents occurred in various parts of the country.Bureau Chief of Geo TV Karachi Fahim Siddiqui on 25th July was kidnapped and tortured in Karachi’s North Nazimabad before being dumped in Manghopir according to the victim. Four men travelling in a vehicle kidnapped the journalist as he left his home within the limits of Shahra-e-Noorjehan in his car on Link road, three of them wore police uniforms while the fourth man was in a civilian dress. They also snatched his mobile phone and licensed pistol from him. Several hundred people belonging to the media held a six-hour sit-in at the Dadu-Larkana section of the Indus Highway on 15th July to lodge their strong protest over police failure to arrest a feudal lord and his armed guards who allegedly kidnapped four senior journalists in Johi a fortnight back and subjected them to inhuman treatment.Braving sizzling weather conditions — with the mercury shooting up to around 50 degrees Celsius — the protesters kept sitting and raising slogans against the culprits and the area police during the course of the sit-in on SSP Chowk in Dadu. The vehicular traffic on the highway also remained suspended while the sit-in was under way..Leading the protesters, Wali Mohammed Chandio, Wali Mohammed Loond, Ghous Bukhsh Jhatyal, Nizamuddin Shaikh, Tarique Leghari, Fatah Shaikh, Niaz Bhatti and other office-bearers of various forums of journalists condemned the incident and called for immediate arrest of the culprits. Israr Ahmed, a crime reporter for The Nation daily in Punjab province for the past seven years, has long been living in fear as a result of being hounded by both the police and gang members in connection with his coverage of drug trafficking in Rawalpindi Muhamma Arshad, who works for Aaj News TV, was threatened in connection with his coverage of reactions to a December 2014 attack on a Peshawar school in which more than 100 people were killed. He got no help or protection from the local police after a mob came to his h Rasool Dawar, a journalist of nine years’ experience who was Geo News TV’s correspondent in Peshawar, the capital of the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, fled the province after being threatened, interrogated and detained twice. Explaining his concerns to his employer, Dawar said: “I still feel frightened and am not comfortable at all to continue my professional duties at my work-stations in a free manner. Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) have arrested Khawaja Muhammad Arshad Vice Chairman Press Cub Saddar Bahawalpur in Punjab province and shifted him to unknown place.Accordind to details he was sitting in Press Club Sub Office Noorpur Naurange when a party of CTD raided and arrested him.President Press Club Saddar Bahawalpur Mian Saqib Bodla told RMNP that Khawaja Muhammad Arshad is Correspondent of Daily Pakistan and associated with profession of journalism for three last years. Neither he was included in Fourth Schedule nor he is involved in any terrorist activity, he added. Crimes Investigation Department has arrested one Abdul Rehman , known as Sindhi a member of Al-Qaeda and Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami in Karachi on April 24,2016 .According to reports, he allegedly assisted Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, the convicted mastermind of Wall Street Journal’s US Journalist Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder, and he is alleged to have been in contact with Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Bin Laden as Al-Qaeda’s chief in 2011. Karachi police said that Rehman could be brought before a court in the next two days. He is also wanted by the FBI. The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, Pearl had gone to Pakistan to investigate Islamist networks when he was abducted and murdered in February 2002. Being a member, RMNP has endorsed The International Press Institute(IPI) demand for the formal release of a judicial commission’s report on the 2014 shooting of Geo Television journalist Hamid Mir after details of the report were leaked to the public.The RMNP called on Pakistan Supreme Court Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali to formally release all documents related to the report prepared by the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Incident of Firing on Hamid Mir, as well as all related annexes and appendices. Hamid Mir was shot six times by unknown men on motorcycles as he was leaving the Karachi airport on April 19, 2014. Although international and national outrage over the attempt on his life led to the creation of the Commission nearly two years ago, no official word on the progress of the Commission has been released so far.

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