The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by attacks against journalists amid street violence in Karachi, in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate and the country’s leading journalists’ organisation, said the situation for Karachi-based journalists was dangerous after three journalists were injured while covering confrontations between rival political groups on April 9.
Thee journalists were injured, including a camera-woman from GEO television whose arm was broken. Four cameras were snatched and two media vehicles were torched by protesters as clashes between two groups of lawyers turned into a riot, the PFUJ reported.
Journalists who were attacked included Arshad Mahmood, of KTN, Muhammad Junaid, of Express TV, Sanir Mazhar, from an Urdu daily, and Makhdoom Adil, of Online.
The violence came several days after Pakistan’s new government temporarily closed three television news channels - GEO, ARYONE World and Dawn - to prevent coverage of an assault of former Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim from going to air. The shutdown was worryingly reminiscent of the forced closure of television stations during the emergency rule imposed by President Pervez Musharraf in late 2007.
However, in a positive turn of events, the IFJ joins the PFUJ in welcoming comments by new Information Minister Sherry Rehman that the Government is committed to resolving problems faced by the media in Pakistan and to the implementation of the Seventh Wage Board Award, for which the PFUJ has long been campaigning.
“Journalists in Pakistan have demonstrated their long-standing commitment to press freedom and freedom of expression for all people in Pakistan,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park. “
“It is therefore very disturbing to hear that protesters have targeted impartial bystanders, including journalists, causing physical harm and damage to their equipment.”
In the wake of the Karachi violence, the PFUJ appealed to the owners of media houses and television channels to provide adequate safety measures for their employees, including safety training courses.
“This is an alarming situation and we fear for the safety and security of our colleagues,” the PFUJ said.
“These are minimum actions the owners can do for their workers who risk their lives to cover events in a dangerous zone.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries