As journalists get attacked, media workers in Pakistan ask for more protection

Several journalists and activists gathered yesterday at the Lahore Press Club to demand greater protection for media workers in war zones.

Aug 26, 2016

LAHORE: Several journalists and activists gathered yesterday at the Lahore Press Club to demand greater protection for media workers in war zones.

The rally comes just a few days after members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) stormed the headquarters of Ary News in Karachi, a coastal city in south-eastern Pakistan, attacking journalists for not covering their week-long hunger strike.

During the clashes with police that followed, one person died and dozens of others were wounded.

The attack against the TV station occurred last Monday. The violence followed the telephonic address by the MQM leader who has been in exile in London for the past 24 years.

He incited his party members by saying that "Pakistan is a cancer on the whole world" and condemning the “enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of [MQM party] workers”.

At the TV station, attackers went on a rampage and held people hostage for several hours, fired in the air and threw stones at police.

In response, Pakistani rangers raided the party headquarters and arrested its leaders.

Lahore Press Club president Shahbaz Mian expressed deep concern over the climate of extremism in which journalists are forced to work.

“Many have died covering terror attacks; those who were injured live with handicaps. Media owners don’t care for their families; only care for headlines”, he said.

“The camera is insured but the cameraman has no life insurance. The bullet proof jackets are only for those who are being recorded or broadcast. There is no capacity building or training for teams who are sent off to war zones. The government has failed in protecting us”.

According to a report issued by the International Federation of Journalists, Pakistan ranks the fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with a total of 115 killings from 1990 to 2015.

Last year, 28 journalists were killed and 23 injured whilst performing their professional duties in the country.

Mubashar Luqman a senior anchor person, called for greater unity in the journalistic community.

“The competing news channels do not name one another when reporting about killing of media workers, who die a nameless death. At least acknowledge them. They should also ban anti-state speeches as well as speeches against any faith”, he said.

Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for tolerance) chairman Samson Salamat, a Christian, also expressed solidarity with journalists. “As part of civil society, we stand by those who give their life for freedom of expression,” he told AsiaNews.

For Civil Society Network President Abdullah Malik, “The terrorists target journalists to draw attraction. The state also has a mindset against media that expose those who incite violence, highlight corruption and bad governance as well as speak up for marginalised communities”.--Asia News

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