A recent report of The Australian about a Pakistani journalist seeking asylum in Australia speaks volumes about growing sense of insecurity among Pakistan’s media professionals.
According to the report the 38-year-old journalist Amjad Hussain, belonging to Pakistan’s province Balochistan, has sought asylum in Australia, saying “he was forced to flee the country because of death threats from military-backed militants.”
World over journalists face threats and risks but Pakistan is different. This difference is evident from a report of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which, in May this year, had ranked Pakistan as “the second most dangerous country for journalists the world over”.
Pakistani journalists are exposed to more danger and risks because of the ongoing war against terrorism, armed separatist movements like one in Balochistan, sectarian violence and above all poor law and order situation across the country in general. These threats and risks magnify when the government fails to apprehend those involved in threatening and even killing journalists.
Who can forget Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan Bureau Chief for the online service Asia Times Online, who was found murdered on May 31, 2011. Saleem Shahzad’s killers are yet to be apprehended despite passage of whole one year.
Recently, the Amnesty International in a statement released on the Saleem Shahzad’s death anniversary said “Pakistan must take urgent steps to bring (Saleem Shahzad’s) killers to justice and properly investigate claims of intimidation against journalists, including by intelligence services.”
It is pertinent to mention here that a journalist Razzaq Gul was found murdered near Turbat town in Kech district of Balochistan province on May 19, 2012. The Express Tribune, quoting hospital sources, reported that the victim (Razzaq Gul) was shot in the head and chest, and his body bore marks of torture.”
The report reads: “According to journalists of the Turbat Press Club, Gul (Razzaq Gul) had not mentioned that he was receiving death threats. However, citing security concerns, most journalists refused to comment on the killing.”
It is also important to note that the refusal of journalists to comment on the murder of their fellow journalist (Razzaq Gul) also highlights the kind of insecurity and threats journalists in Pakistan face. One can understand as to how, sometime, it becomes difficult to probe murder of a journalist in Pakistan.