December 31, 2014
Lahore: Journalists in Pakistan lived under the constant threats of killings, harassment and other violence from state and non state actors throughout the outgoing year 2014. The PFUJ President Rana Muhammad Azeem and Secretary General Amin Yousuf expressed their deep concerns over the miserable conditions of the journalists in country while paid rich tributes to the journalists who had to face threats and sacrificed their lives in discharging their duties to safeguard the people’s basic rights of freedom of speech and nourish the democracy in the country. There were other issues likes of unemployment, downsizing, non-payment of salaries but the incidents of killings dominated.
As many as 118 journalists were killed in the world during 2014 including 14 journalists and media workers who lost their lives while performing their duties to bring truth before the people and were targeted by the terrorists but no killer was arrested. The PFUJ had been asking the authorities of the Government of Pakistan to provide secure, safe and conducive working environment to the working journalists while International Federal Union of Journalists had also been advising the Pakistan government for the same, issuing attention letters but all remained unattended. The Pakistan had again been declared one of the most dangerous countries for the journalists to perform their professional duties. Pakistan’s responsible authorities have almost completely failed to stem human rights abuses against media workers and to bring those responsible to task.
The outgoing year proved deadly not only for Pakistani journalists but the world wide journalist community faced lethal situation. According to the international data available 9 journalists were killed in Afghanistan, 2 in Bangladesh, 3 in Brazil, 1 in Burma, 3 in Cambodia, 2 in Congo, 2 in Dominican Republic, 2 Egypt, 3 in Guinea, 6 journalists in Honduras, 2 in India, 8 journalists in Iraq, 3 in Libya, 5 journalists in Mexico, 9 in Palestine, 4 in Paraguay, 2 in Peru, 4 in Philippines, 1 in Russian Federation, 3 in Somalia, 12 in Syria, 8 in Ukraine, one journalist was killed in USA while 2 journalists lost their lives in Yemen.
Besides 14 journalists killed in Pakistan, hundreds of journalists faced serious life threats and incidents of harassment, abduction and assassination attempts in 2014. A number of journalists had to displace their families to safer places leaving their home towns. Amongst the 8 killed journalists include 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). Amongst 6 media Persons are Muhammad Mustafa (Lahore-Driver Express News) , Muhammad Abdur Rasool, Muhammad Younas(Quetta), and Waqas Aziz Khan, Driver Khalid Khan, Security Guard Ashraf Arian of Express News-Karachi.
Although no place was safer for the journalists in Pakistan but Balochistan proved to be more dangerous place where as deadly incidents happened in Province of Sindh, Punjab and KPK.
The PFUJ held number of demonstrations, sit-ins, seminars, rallies and training workshops throughout the country to high light the issues of insecurity and impunity for the working journalists. Some delegates met the government authorities to resolve the issues of security threats to the journalists while IFJ also wrote letters to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Governors, Inspector General Police of different provinces and federal interior ministry to provide security as signed and agreed with United Nations charter but the situation remained miserable. Even the senior journalists, journalists’ union campaigners including the President Rana M Azeem and Secretary General Amin Yousuf were amongst those who received life threatening telephone calls.
The PFUJ hopes that coming year 2015 would bring new era of peace and peaceful working atmosphere for the journalists in the country where the community will have its basic rights of freedom of expression as per the UN charter has guaranteed.