Threats to journalists

Published June 13, 2017

AFTER a brief period of comparative calm, recent events have served as a reminder of the mortal dangers that journalists in Pakistan face. On Sunday morning in Haripur, Bakhshish Ilahi, the bureau chief of an Urdu newspaper, was gunned down while on his way to work. Journalists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have demanded that the provincial government arrest the killers. While the motive behind the murder has yet to be determined, members of the media familiar with the senior journalist’s reporting are convinced that his work was the reason he was targeted. Meanwhile in Lahore, Rana Tanveer, a reporter for an English daily who often writes about the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan, has seen his house vandalised and a death threat painted on the gate. A few days ago, in an incident that may have had a sinister motive, he was left with injuries requiring an operation after a speeding car struck him.

Pakistan has long been among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Nearly 60 media persons, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, have lost their lives in this country since 2000 for reasons ascertained as being related to their work — either in direct reprisal, during the course of an assignment, or in crossfire while covering combat situations. Last year was the first after 2001 that no media person fell victim to a targeted killing. The almost complete impunity with which such crimes are carried out exacerbates the peril: to date, in only three cases have the murderers of journalists been brought to book — Daniel Pearl, Wali Babar and Ayub Khattak. In other instances, even credible investigations have not been carried out, let alone taken to the trial stage. Until this changes, journalists who unmask corruption in high places and the shady agendas of competing power structures will continue to look over their shoulder. And society will be the loser, for the media’s oversight role is a vital ingredient of a functioning democracy.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2017

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...