RMNP demands Pakistani governmemt to end culture of impunity

Majority of journalists killed during last decade belong to small towns and rural area, says President RMNP
The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) has expressed grave concern over the pathetic condition of journalists safety in Pakistan where media is passing through the worst time of its 67 years history. Journalists, TV anchors, media houses and media workers are under a constant threat of 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 the November 2 as a National Day of Action Against Impunity in Pakistan which is being observed as first UN International Day to End Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists. President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Khan Sehar has 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.He stated since 2000, 115 Pakistani journalists were killed while more than than two thousand were torturted arrested ,intimidated and attacked.During last fourteen years only killers of two journalist and Daniel Pearl and Wali Khan Babar were arrested,but all the six prosecuting Journists Protestwitnesses of Wali Babar murder case were killed .

President RMNP expressed his apprehensions that there is complete silence and no further action has been taken to investigate the mudrer cases of journalists even after the promise made by the Prime Minister. Intimidations and threats to journalists from different groups are continued and media houses have asked their staff not to be harsh while criticizing militant and extremist groups.He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had assured in his meeting with head of 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 that government will 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 given to Imtiaz Alam and Ansar Abbasi,the arrest of local journalist Suhail Khan in Bahawalnagar. besides 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 though Pakistan’s media is urban oriented but during last decade out of killed journalists, majority belong from small towns and rural areas.

Meanwhile RMNP has presented following fourteen demands which are being submitted to government and media houses and organizations on the eve of UN International Day to End Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists

The government;
1. should take immediate steps to ensure safety of journalists and security of media houses;

should not compromise on freedom of expression and media while talking with any group at the name of peace as this issue is directly related with the survival of our country; should immediately arrest the criminals behind attacks on media persons;

2. The newspapers and private TV channel owners must be taken onboard for security and safety of journalists and for this purpose the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and other media associations must be taken into confidence.
3. Special workshops on safety and security for journalists working in rural areas should be planned in small towns and international media organizations should focus on such areas which are more vulnerable.
4. National and regional newspapers and TV channels should form unity. If a reporter or correspondent of one channel is attacked or killed, other channels should mention his and his organization’s name while broadcasting the news and avoid indulging in blame game;
5. Militant, extremist organizations and political parties should stop harassing media for the coverage of their news;
6. International journalists’ organizations should be requested to write letters to the media houses to provide security to their staffers working in sensitive areas;
7. Coordination should be improved between news room and field teams as well as with correspondents and contributors on safety and security issues, and anchors avoid pressing reporters for details which may put their lives in dangers;
8. A legal aid mechanism should be evolved and safety fund created for the families of journalists killed in terrorist attacks;
9. A special public prosecutor should be appointed to exclusively take up and pursue cases of attacks on media and media workers to promote a culture of justice and accountability;
10. All media houses must formulate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for journalists;
11. An Eminent Group of Journalists should be set up to serve as mediation platform to forge consensus between media and the government authorities on the issue of safety; representation of rural areas be given in the Pakistan Coalition of Media Safety (PCOMS)
12. Media houses should help their staffers to change work place if necessary for their security;
13. The owners of newspapers and TV channels should provide complete insurance cover to their correspondents working in sensitive areas;
14. A dependable mechanism must be evolved to identify the dangers and collect the information in rural areas to alert the journalists. RMNP has stressed again and again on this point.



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