Islamabad: In the last two years, Pakistan has seen a surge in violence against journalists. As many as 23 journalists have been killed in 2010 and 2011. Many targeted for their stories and several others getting caught in bomb blasts and other acts of violence.
In 2010, 14 journalists died in the line of duty. Their names are Ashiq Ali Mangi, Malik Arif, Azmat Ali Bangash, Ghulam Rasool Birhamani, Ejazul Haq, Faz Mohammad Khan Sasoli, Mohammad Sarwar, Ejaz Ahmed Raisani, Misri Khan, Mujeebur Rehman Saddiqui, Lala Hameed Hayatan, Altaf Chandio, Mohammad Khan Sasoli,Abdul Wahab and Pervez Khan.
Those killed in 2011 are Ilyas Nazar, Wali Khan Babar, Nasrullah Afridi, Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asfandyar Khan, Shafiullah, Muneer Shakir and Javed Naseer Rind.
PFUJ has been raising its voice against the killing of journalists and has staged protests, sit-ins and pressurized the government to take action against the culprits and keep a check on the rising trend of targeting media persons.
In the case of Syed Saleem Shahzad, a sit-in was staged outside the Parliament House and a judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge was demanded to investigate the killing of Mr Shahzad.
The government, which was initially resisting the demand of the PFUJ, finally budged and a commission was set up headed by Justice Saqib Nisar of the Supreme Court. Among its members is PFUJ President Pervaiz Shaukat.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has also adopted a number of measures for the protection of journalists and highlighted the plight of journalists and the government’s apathy towards their protection.
In collaboration with International Federation of Journalists, International Media Support and a number of other international media rights organizations, PFUJ has launched programmers to enhance the capacity of journalists. The programmers aim at providing training to journalists and equip them with the necessary skills while reporting in hostile environment.
To raise awareness among media persons of the safety measures they should take in case of threats, a number of posters and brochures were published with the assistance of International Federation of Journalists which provided detailed information on how a journalist should react and what he or she should do when faced by threats.
The posters and brochures were distributed among all the journalists unions and press clubs in the country so that media persons are aware of who to contact and what to do when pursued by unknown persons or receiving threatening calls or messages.
The PFUJ has also established a Journalist Safety Fund in collaboration with International Media Support. Intermedia, a local media rights organization, is also a partner of the PFUJ in the implementation of the Journalists Safety Fund.
Though still in its initial stage, the fund which is handled by a steering committee comprising members having background in journalism, law, human rights and civil society, has taken up a number of cases of journalists who had either been attacked or threatened.
A number of journalists including Jehangir Aslam, Jamal Tarakai, Abdul Salam Soomro and late Akhtar Mirza have benefitted from the fund.
Jehangir Aslam, Jamal Tarakai and Abdul Salam Soomro were relocated to Islamabad where they were lodged and supported. A number of other cases are also been reviewed by the steering committee.
It is deemed necessary here to mention that the mandate of the fund is restricted to journalists under threat alone and does not cater to their families. Besides the fund supports temporary assistance and in no way assists relocation abroad.
The PFUJ has also provided financial assistance to journalists who had, like many thousands of people, lost everything in the floods in 2010.
A number of workshops and international seminars have been organised by the PFUJ which were attended by numerous journalists from all over the country who were given training my international trainers.
Local missions in collaboration with the IFJ have been arranged and most recently sent to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas whose purpose was to ascertain in what state the journalists are, especially in far-flung areas, and what all obstacles they face while performing their duties.
Local missions to Punjab and Sindh are also underway and would considerably help in collecting necessary data of journalists working in small districts and gathering information on the nature of threats faced by the mediapersons there.
PFUJ President Pervaiz Shaukat and Secretary-General Amin Yousuf as well as other office-bearers have been striving at various forums to improve the lot of journalists.
At present, 7th Wage Award case is being pursued in the Supreme Court and it is hoped that the constant struggle of journalists for the rights would in the end bear fruits.
For more information, contact:
Shamsul Islam Naz
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
12-Nazimuddin Road, F-6/1
Phone Office +92(0)51 2870220-1
Facsimile +92(0)51 2870223
Cell: +92(0)300 8665523