‘Journalists… brace for more difficult times ahead’


With journalists from Karachi reluctant to take names of criminals or the organisations responsible and the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa already unsafe for journalists, the coming times will be a lot more difficult for the media in the country.
This was observed by speakers at a round table conference held in the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday that was arranged jointly by KPC, South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and South Asian Media Commission (SAMC). “Journalists from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are ready to tell the names of those responsible for murder of journalists or from where they receive threats, but the journalists of Karachi are not ready to point out the [alleged] accused,” the speakers said. “They must come forward to nominate the persons or organisations.”
“In Pakistan, the killings of journalists were started in 1979 when three reporters were killed at a time in different areas of Sindh,” they said. “[But] the secret agencies, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI); political parties, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party; nationalist parties; and banned militant and religious outfits are behind escalating the situation in Karachi.” The speakers said that 13 journalists, including Saleem Shehzad and Wali Babar, were targeted and murdered in a manner which questions the safety of media persons. “Security has become the most frightening issue for all those who cover or write on conflicts, terrorism, extremism and strategic issues.”
“The media, on its part, must observe professional and ethical standards and agree to some credible self-regulatory accountability mechanism while the security agencies should stop recruiting journalists and define a clear code,” they opined. The speakers said that the interference of [intelligence] agencies in the media must be stopped by the armed forces’ leadership and complaint cells be created at all security agencies to entertain the complaints of citizens against the excesses of their officials. At the conference, a number of resolutions were passed during the session, where Imtiaz Alam, Ziauddin, Tahir Hassan Khan and Mazhar Abbas were among the speakers.