Another brutal year for journalists in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) express deep concerns over the miserable condition of journalists in the country as the IFJ’s annual List of Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2014 puts Pakistan as the most dangerous country with 14 killings. The PFUJ has termed 2014 as one of the worst years in decades for Pakistan media saying that not a single case of these incidents has been prosecuted in the court. Among those killed, eight were journalists and six were media staffs. Those killed were Jewan Arian (Ghambat Khairpur), Shan Dhar (Larkana), Irshad Mastoi(Quetta), Afzal Khawaja (Ustta Muhammad in Balochistan), Yaqoob Shehzad (Hafizabad) Nadeem Hyder (Hafizabad), Shehzad Iqbal (Mianwali) and Ibrar Tanoli (Abbotabad); and Muhammad Mustafa (Driver, Express News) , Muhammad Abdur Rasool, Muhammad Younas (Quetta), and Waqas Aziz Khan, driver Khalid Khan, security guard Ashraf Arian of Express News. Hundreds of journalists faced serious life threats and incidents of harassment, abduction and assassination attempts in 2014. A number of journalists were forced to relocate for safety. The PFUJ also said that Balochistan as the most dangerous place within Pakistan for journalists. The PFUJ said: “Journalists in Pakistan lived under the constant threats of killings, harassment and other violence from state and non-state actors throughout 2014. There were other issues like unemployment, downsizing, and non-payment of salaries but the incidents of violence against journalists dominated the year.” The IFJ and the PFUJ is also saddened by the fact that despite repeated calls to the government and authorities in Pakistan to provide secure, safe and conducive working environment to journalists, they largely went unattended. The IFJ and the PFUJ wrote letters to the Prime Minister, state governments, opposition leaders and inspector general of police urging for action against perpetrators to end impunity or end violence against media. The PFUJ held number of demonstrations, sit-ins, seminars, rallies, training workshops and met with authorities throughout the country to highlight the issues of insecurity and impunity for the working journalists. The PFUJ, despite fears that 2015 could be yet another difficult year for journalists, hopes that the coming year would bring new era of peace and peaceful working atmosphere for the journalists and urges journalists and media houses to remain united for the rights of journalists; and urges authorities to ensure safety for journalists. According to IFJ report, 118 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related targeted or cross fire incidents in 2014, an increase of 13 killings from last year. 17 more died in road and natural disasters accidents while on assignments.

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