Pakistan Security Forces Fire at Media Team

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands Pakistan’s Government and senior security officials abide by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738 after security forces reportedly opened fire on journalists in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) just after granting the team permission to enter the Swat Valley conflict zone.


AVT Khyber cameraman Malik Imran and his driver, Mushtaq, suffered serious bullet injuries on June 9 when security forces fired at a vehicle carrying a team of journalists who were on their way to report on the conflict between Pakistan’s armed forces and insurgents in the Lower Dir district.


Khyber TV reporter Lihaz Ali and a photographer for a national daily paper, Abdul Majeed Goraya, escaped injury.


“These are difficult times for Pakistan, but it is outrageous that security personnel would fire on a media team, especially as the journalists had just been given permission to enter the area,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


“This latest attack on journalists blatantly contravenes Security Council Resolution 1738, which requires that national governments – and their armed forces – must protect journalists and media workers reporting in war zones, in accordance with their status as civilians.”


The IFJ joins its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in calling on Pakistan’s Government and Army Chief to explain the incident and conduct an immediate high-level investigation.


The PFUJ said the journalists told the Khyber Union of Journalists that the incident occurred after they had registered with security authorities at Dargai, near Peshawar, and received permission to enter the conflict zone.


Security forces then reportedly shot at the media team as soon as it entered the area, the journalists said. It remains unclear whether the shots were fired by personnel who had given the team permission to enter.


The PFUJ reports that Swat, Deer, Malakand, Bonair and other areas of the war-torn NWFP have been off limits to journalists and media workers. The only source of information about operational activities in these areas has been statements issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), an arm of the military.


“This is nothing but a direct impediment against independent reporting by the media and a suppression of the rights to freedom of press and expression,” the PFUJ said.


“Any government strategy of shutting down media reporting of a major conflict deprives all civilians in Pakistan with necessary information about their safety. Shooting at journalists who have taken appropriate measures to access the war zone is a war crime.”


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide