The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) are concerned at incidences of violence being directed at media workers, particularly those from Geo News in Pakistan. The IFJ has called on all political leaders to respect the role of the media in their reporting duties and to condemn violence by party followers.
It comes after some violent retaliation to journalists by the cadres of the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) party during their political rally last weekend. On the first two days of the rally, as many as eight journalists and media workers were targeted.
According to reports, Azaz Syed of Geo TV was forced to leave the venue after he was abused and his microphone was snatched away. Journalists Arshad Waheed and Farhat Jabeen were among media workers who locked themselves in the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van after cadres started kicking on the van and warned to leave within minutes on Friday, August 15.
On Saturday, August 16, Arshad and Saif-ur-Rehman were attacked and forced to flee the rally venue; and cameraman Shabbir Ahmed’s camera was broken. The PTI chairman Imran Khan, in a public speech, also accused Jang Group newspapers of propaganda against him – a move that the IFJ said could in effect escalate violence against journalists in the current environment.
The IFJ and the PFUJ call on the media to remain vigilant about safety of journalists and media workers. The PFUJ issued an advisory to journalists covering ongoing political movements in Islamabad to perform their duties in a safe way.
Although, the PTI later condemned attacks on journalists and assured that such incidents would not be repeated, the IFJ and the PFUJ urges journalists to remain cautious and prioritise safety.
The PFUJ said in a statement: “Journalists should do his duty with full responsibility but keep the safety priority as well. The duty has always been our prime responsibility but one should be careful and keep personal security in mind as well.”
The IFJ urges Pakistani journalists to follow the IFJ Safety Guidelines. Initiates file downloadDownload Here.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington, said: “Pakistani journalists have long been working in one of the most hostile working environments for media. Attacks on journalists while they are merely performing duties is a condemnable act and the political parties should understand that holding different opinions is the beauty of democracy and free press should be allowed to report independently without biases.”