WORDS are not enough to condemn the suicide bomb attack on the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday. The attack has grave implications for the media and its role in fighting militancy in Pakistan. Many journalists have come under attack — in Pakistan 15 lost their lives in the year ending May 2009 and many more have received death threats. But so far individuals have been targeted not only by militants but also by the security agencies for their independent reporting. The media is never loved by those who fear disclosures of their wrongdoings. But when the state fails to protect journalists, they end up putting their lives on the line. The attack on the press club is a chilling message sent by the militants to all members of the media, regardless of their independent views or the political orientation of the channels and newspapers they work for. This is the first time such an attack has taken place and it appears that the militants are now desperate and realise that they are perhaps losing support of even those sections in the media that had at times been accused of boosting Taliban efforts to propagate extremism. It is about time the government tightened security for journalists and their institutions.
One must also salute the police force that is playing a heroic role in defending citizens from terror attacks. Many in the police have died in the line of duty. In spite of their inadequate training, insufficient equipment and facilities and poor monetary status, the police continue to perform their duty as best as they can. Head Constable Riazuddin Khan, who challenged the bomber and in the process lost his own life although he saved many others, is deserving of the tributes being paid to him. The Peshawar Press Club should honour his memory in some way.