The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has denounced further violence against journalists in Pakistan after a recent attack on the Peshawar Press Club by activists of the Pakistan Muslim League, injuring newsmen and staff members of the club.
“The recent increasing levels of attacks against journalists in Pakistan is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Press freedom cannot be obtained while journalists’ safety is so precarious, and their rights are not respected,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
There have also been reports that journalists have been threatened and detained without charge. According to IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), incidents against journalists in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan are of the most serious nature, as journalist’s lives have been placed under threat.
Three journalists, including Khalil Afredi of the Daily Khabrian, Sudhi Afredi of the Daily Frontier Post and Abu Zar Afredi of the Daily Express were detained for 24 hours by the government for interviewing wanted head cleric of Lashkar-e-Islami, Mangal Afredi. They were only released after intervention from clerics.
Reports have also revealed the group Lashkar-e-Islami has threatened to demolish the houses of and place monetary fines on Qazi Nasrullah of the Daily Mashriq and Qazi Rauf of the Daily Express for reporting in favour of government policies.
“Journalists need to unite against these threats and those responsible for intimidation and attacks must be investigated and held accountable,” Warren said.
In Baluchistan, an opposition leader from the floor of the Baluchistan Assembly threatened to burn newspaper offices if his party was not given press coverage. Similarly journalists have been forced to flee their homes due to threats made against them for reporting on para-military operations in Dera Bugti and Buluchistan.
The IFJ supports the PFUJ in vowing to defend press freedom in light of this new wave of attacks which come after the recent murders of reporter Hayatullah Khan and cameraman Munir Sangi.
“The IFJ calls for increased safety measures and protection for journalists in Pakistan. This violence and intimidation reflects an appalling decline in press freedom in the region and authorities must ensure those responsible are brought to justice,” Warren said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries