Violence Against Journalists
In December 2010, the group, Reporters without Borders concluded that Pakistan was the most dangerous country for journalist since 11 journalists got killed in different incidents of violence. In assessing the most violent countries in the last decade for reporters the group named three countries; Pakistan, Iraq and Mexico.
The killing of a young reporter of Geo News, Wali Khan Babar indicates that the violence may continue in 2011. In the past two decades many journalist lost their lives during an act of terrorism, or while covering an ongoing armed conflict some like Hayatullah became victims of agencies while others like Wali Khan Babar were apparently targeted for covering an operation in the restive parts of Karachi.
Here is a news report appeared in today’s The News International about the killing and kidnapping of journalists in Pakistan since 1990s. Incidentally, Umar Cheema the scribe of this report had also been picked up, threatened and tortured last year.
Not a single killer of 46 journalists found
By Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: With Wali Khan Babar the latest casualty, as many as 47 journalists have been killed in Pakistan during the last 17 years, but not a single murder case has been resolved as of today with only one exception of US journalist Daniel Pearl, whose assassins were brought to justice under intense American pressure.
In no instance, even the challan was sent to the court regarding murder of a journalist, let alone carrying out prosecution.
In the famous case of Hayatullah Khan who was murdered in June 2006 after six-month captivity, though no criminal investigation took place, a judicial commission led by Peshawar High Court’s Justice Muhammad Raza Khan conducted fact-finding, but report was never made public.
The first and last in the list of journalists killed during this period (1994-January 2011) were Karachi-based journalists: Muhammad Salahuddin, editor of a weekly magazine Takbeer, and Wali Khan Babar, Geo’s reporter.
Incidentally, the former who was very critical political writer with alignment towards Jamaat-e-Islami, was murdered by unknown gunmen on December 4, 1994 outside his office when army operation was underway in Karachi.
The latter, a Pushtun by ethnicity, has been shot dead when another operation, is in progress in Pehlawan Goth, as the situation worsens in the port city with the number of target killings mounting by the day.
Other journalists killed in Karachi in this span are: Mohammad Samdani Warsi (killed two days after Salahuddin on December 6, 1994), Daniel Pearl of Wall Street Journal (who was kidnapped and killed by militants in February 2002) and Muhammad Arif of ARY TV (killed during a blast covering late Benazir Bhutto’s come-back on October 18, 2007).
Majority of the slain Pakistani journalists, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), were covering politics, mostly of violent nature, be it in Karachi, Quetta, tribal areas or elsewhere. Again, Salahuddin and Wali Babar were also into the political reporting.
About Salahuddin, the CPJ wrote, “In his editorials, he was very critical of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.” Wali was covering the activities of Awami National Party (ANP), the bitter rival of MQM.
Among the dead journalists, majority worked for the print media. There were 62% those writing for newspapers/magazines, 44% slain journalists used to work for TV channels and the remaining were employed by online publications.
The year 2010 was the deadliest that took lives of seven journalists. There were four journalists killed in 2009, five each in 2007 and 2008, two each in 2005 and 2006, one each in 2003 and 2004, two in 2002 and one each in 1997 and 2000 and two in 1994.
Of 47 journalists killed, 53% were those murdered, and 38% were fatally wounded covering dangerous assignments becoming victims of suicide blasts etc. There were as many as 9% those journalists killed in cross firing, revealed the statistics obtained from the CPJ website.
Those 18 journalists murdered in line of their duty are: Wali Khan Babar (Karachi), Misri Khan (Hungu), Ghulam Rasool Birhamani (Wahi Pandhi), Janullah Hashimzada (Jamrud), Musa Khankhel (Swat), Abdul Razaq Johra (Mianwali), Muhammad Ibrahim (Khar), Chishti Mujahid (Quetta), Zubair Ahmad Mujahid (Mirpur Khas), Hayatullah Khan (Miran Shah), Allah Noor (Wana), Amir Nawab (Wana), Sajid Tanoli (Mansehra), Fazal Wahab (Mingora), Shahid Soomro (Kandhkot), Daniel Pearl (Karachi), Sufi Muhammad Khan (Badin), Samdani Warsi (Karachi) and Mohammad Salahuddin (Karachi).
Another list of 10 journalists contains the names of those murdered but the motive behind their killings remains unknown. They were: Mehmood Chandio (Mirpur Khas), Lala Hameed Baloch (Turbat), Siddique Bacha Khan (Mardan), Wasi Ahmad Qureshi (Khuzdar), Raja Assad Hameed (Rawalpindi), Khadim Hussain Sheikh (Hub), Muhammad Ismail (Islamabad), Asadullah (Karachi), Nawaz Zulfiqar Memon (Islamabad), and Carlos Mavroleon (Peshawar).
As many as three journalists killed in crossfire: Malik Arif (Quetta), Abdul Aziz Shaheen (Swat) and Munir Ahmad Sangi (Larkana).
There were 13 journalists killed performing in dangerous assignments: Parvez Khan (Ghalanai), Abdul Wahab (Ghalanai), Ejaz Raisani (Quetta), Ejazul Haq (Lahore), Azmat Bagash (Orakzai Agency), Tahir Awan (Dera Ismail Khan), Mohammad Imran (Dera Ismail Khan), Siraj-ud-Din (Mingora), Muhammad Arif (Karachi), Javed Khan (Islamabad), Mehboob Khan (Charsadda) and ZA Shahid (Lahore).