ISLAMABAD: As many as 26 journalists have been murdered in the country during the last five years and none of the killers have been punished, said a report launched on Friday.
The report, formulated by ‘Freedomnetwork’, was set to be launched on November 2 — the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists — it was delayed due to the sit-in at Faizabad and protest rallies against Supreme Court’s decision on Aasia Bibi.
According to the report, launched in the National Press Club, during the period from 2013 to 2018, 26 journalists were murdered.
Punjab proved to be the most dangerous place, with eight mediapersons having been killed while performing their duties. Seven journalists were killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and five each in Sindh and Balochistan.
The report, authored by Adnan Rehmat and Iqbal Khattak, highlighted that the killers included mysterious, nameless and unidentified actors. One group of killers were non-state actors such as militants and outlawed groups while some killings were attributed to political parties and religious groups.
It added that the state had failed in its responsibilities to pursue justice for the murdered journalists.
Speaking on the occasion, Press Council of Pakistan Chairman Salauddin Mengal criticised the lack of interest from all stakeholders and the respective governments to improve the standard of journalism.
“The press council does not have the capacity to monitor all 2,200 daily newspapers in the country,” he added.
Mr Mengal said it was the responsibility of media bodies and owners to help the relevant authorities modernise media-related laws.
The participants discussed the status of journalists’ protection bill finalised by the Senate Standing Committee on Information.
Former senator Farhatullah Babar, who was in the standing committee that finalised the bill, called for a debate in all provincial and federal legislatures on the issue of impunity of crimes against journalists and devise a legal framework to ensure protection and safety of mediapersons.
“Crimes against journalists basically were committed by those who do not tolerate freedom of expression.
Without free media there can be no free parliament and no free political activities,” he added.
Senior journalist and union leaders M. Ziauddin and Nasir Malik spoke on the occasion and decried the ongoing economic strangulation of media workers and demanded that the government should intervene in the matter.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018