The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined international calls for the government of Pakistan to set up an independent task force to investigate the increasing number of brutal attacks that are wreaking havoc on the country’s media community.As World Press Freedom Day approaches, the IFJ has urged the Pakistani government to bring an end to impunity for violence against journalists and to ensure that those perpetrators of these acts answer for their crimes and face the full weight of justice. The IFJ call follows a spate of appalling attacks in the country since the turn of the new year that have caused the death of seven media workers dead, while countless others have been intimidated, threatened and abused. On 28 March Express News TV’s senior anchor Raza Rumi was attacked in Lahore, while in mid-April the IFJ condemned the attempted murder of renowned Geo News TV anchor, Hamid Mir, in Karachi. He was chased down by a car and two motorcycles and was shot at three times, sustaining injuries to the lower part of his body. The Pakistani government has since moved to set up a commission to investigate the attack against Mir. Most recently, on April 23 the journalist Shahzad Iqbal, a correspondent for SAMAA TV, was killed in Mianwali, in the Punjab Province. He was travelling to his office with his brother on a motorcycle when unidentified armed men intercepted them and opened fire.
As well as attacks on individual journalists, many media outlets have also been targeted. According to reports, last week staff at The News in Islamabad received a threat by email that stated: “You people are the worst kind of swine in our society. No more warnings, no more suggestions….That’s it. Just remember; YOU chose to play with fire.”
“While we welcome the news that the government of Pakistan has moved to set up a judicial commission to investigate the attack against Hamid Mir, it is clear that much greater and broader action is urgently required,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
“There has been a horrifying spike in attacks on journalists and news outlets in Pakistan in 2014. It is time for the government of Pakistan to heed the calls of Pakistani journalists and the international community and introduce meaningful changes that will make journalists safer and ensure death threats and attacks are thoroughly investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.
“An independent task force that will conduct detailed investigations into the attacks must be formed now. The government of Pakistan must act quickly or more journalists will die in what has become a desperate and unbearable situation.”
Pakistan remains among the most deadly countries in the world for journalists. According to IFJ statistics, in 2013 ten journalists were killed there, making it Asia’s deadliest country for journalists and the third deadliest country in the world. This year seven journalists have already lost their lives.
Responding to the need for action, the IFJ’s End Impunity campaign continues to campaign for the Pakistani government to investigate killings of journalists and bring their perpetrators to justice. Visit the IFJ End Impunity campaign page to find out more.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries