The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed at spiralling violence across Pakistan which sees media personnel killed while reporting from the country’s lesser-known conflict zones, with news of two television journalists killed in a suicide bombing in the country’s north-west tribal area on December 6.
Abdul Wahab, of Express News, and Pervez Khan, of WAQT TV, were among 50 people at a government building in Ghalanai, Mohmand Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the country’s north-west who were killed in the double blast. The purported leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, Pakistan’s Daily Times reported.
Another 100 people, including journalist Mohab Ali Mohmand, were injured in the attack in which two suicide bombers disguised as policemen targeted a tribal meeting of a peace committee of Alizai and Safi tribes at the office of Roshan Khan Mehsud, the Daily Times reported. The meeting was called to devise a strategy against terrorism in the tribal region.
Wahab and Khan were preparing a report on the plight of displaced people at the time of the attack, according to Mohmand Press Club President Shakirullah Jan.
“The IFJ condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms – too often, extreme violence is claiming the lives of working journalists in Pakistan,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“The IFJ sends its condolences to the families and colleagues of Abdul Wahab and Pervez Khan, whose deaths are another horrific loss to Pakistan’s media community, coming only one day after the murder of journalist Altaf Chandio in Sindh province on December 5.”
According to IFJ affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the attack killed and injured tribal elders, policemen, political officials and other civilians. The media casualties are the first in Mohmand Agency’s ongoing conflict, the PFUJ reports.
The IFJ joins with the PFUJ in calling for employers to take responsibility for ensuring their personnel are trained and equipped for working in Pakistan’s many volatile and dangerous situations. Employers must provide adequate safety training and equipment, life insurance schemes and assistance to families.
Wahab, aged in his mid-30s and from Dara Village in Haleemzai Tehsil of the Mohmand Agency had worked as a journalist for more than a decade and had also served as General Secretary of the Ghalanai Press Club. He leaves two daughters and a wife.
Khan, aged about 28, was from Mula Mandi area in Haleemzai Tehsil and leaves behind four children and a wife.
Wahab and Khan were irregular employees, paid meagre wages that could barely sustain their families.
The IFJ supports the PFUJ’s demand that the country’s parliamentarians immediately devise a Media Practitioners' Protection and Media Managers Responsibilities' Act to help protect the lives of media personnel.
The PFUJ will observe three days of mourning, with the hoisting of black flags and condolence meetings planned for press clubs, offices of local affiliated unions of journalists and at news centres throughout the country.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 14 journalists and media workers killed in the course of their work in 2010, including this week’s deaths.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook here