The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked and distressed to hear of the loss of life in Islamabad, Pakistan, during the day-long confrontation between government forces and a radical religious group operating in and around the premises of the Lal Masjid on July 3.
The IFJ extends its deepest condolences to the family of Javed Khan, a photojournalist who was killed after apparently being trapped in the crossfire.
According to IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), it is reported that Israr Ahmed, a cameraman for CNBC news channel is still lying critically injured in an Islamabad hospital after being hit by three high-velocity bullets. Injuries have also been sustained by Wahab Saleem, photographer for the Post, Raja Zafar, photographer for the Express, and Absar Ahmad, a senior journalist with the Geo TV channel.
The IFJ has extended its support and solidarity to the wounded journalists.
The IFJ is also alarmed by reports, unconfirmed at this writing, that three journalists have been trapped inside the Lal Masjid, after entering the premises for reporting on some aspects of the months-long confrontation. In the IFJ’s assessment, the circumstances require strict observance by all sides to the conflict, of the global covenant that journalists will be treated as non-combatants and allowed free passage out of danger zones if required.
“The incidents in Islamabad underline the deathly hazards that journalists in Pakistan encounter in the daily performance of their duties,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“This tragic incident reinforces earlier calls made by the IFJ to the government and media employers of implementing essential safety measures on behalf of media workers such as life insurance and complete medical cover for all journalists, photographers and cameramen,” Park said.
“Lives could have been saved if safety training was provided and protective equipment supplied, for instance bullet-proof jackets and helmets. Sadly this is still not the case,” Park said.
The IFJ, the organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries, urges the political authorities and media organisations in Pakistan to consider these basic professional needs on a priority basis.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in more than 115 countries