The other day I was watching different TV reports about the ongoing Lyari operation by security forces against criminal elements in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, and was saddened to notice that some of the journalists covering the combat were without protective gear.
But what shocked me was the news, on Sunday, that besides some police officials two cameramen of private news channels covering the operation were among the wounded.
According to Dawn newspaper these cameramen were Asif of Express television channel and Arif Ali of Dhoom television. It is pertinent to mention here that the overall death toll during the operation reached 24 on Monday.
This is not first incident in which mediapersons got injured. Besides many other incidents in which some journalists even lost their lives in the line of duty, Ehsan Kohati a senior reporter of Waqt News channel received bullet wounds while covering a rally in Karachi in November 2011.
It is generally observed that most of the time mediapersons, including reporters and cameramen, in Pakistan perform their duties in volatile situations without protective equipment which speaks volumes about lack of training and non-provision of protective gear by media organisations to their workers covering incident related to crime.
The following lines from an article published in The News on Sunday (TNS), a weekly magazine of The News International, Pakistan in May 2011 are still valid and need to be applied as nothing has changed, considerably, as far as provision of safety training and protective gear to the journalists is concerned.
“It is also important that journalists and editors are provided training to make more aware of the dangers and how to minimise them. Commissioning editors must be conscious of the risks involved in certain kind of reporting which often get overlooked in an increasingly competitive field. Reporters must demand insurance from their employers and certain protective clothing when working in certain volatile situations. Of course, the risk of being gunned down by groups or powerful interested groups unhappy over reporting of a certain sensitive subject will always haunt reporters, but steps should be taken to avoid unnecessary risks.”