Fata journalists face high security threat

ISLAMABAD: More than 50 per cent journalists from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have received threats of various kinds during last year while at least 33 per cent of the tribal journalists have faced threats of assault in line of duty.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 87 percent of journalists surveyed have termed militants and security forces as the biggest threats they face as media practitioners. In contrast, in Fata all the respondents have termed militants as the biggest source of threat to their security and 79 per cent feel threatened by security forces.

These statistics have been revealed in a recent research report “Reporting from the Frontlines” published by Intermedia Pakistan, a national media advocacy, research and training organisation. The detailed research and analysis report takes stock of the state of media and journalism in Fata.

Nearly 50 percent of total members of Trial Union of Journalists (TUJ) surveyed participated in multiple surveys to determine unique threats present in different agencies. Some other key findings include:

Militants have been identified as major threat source by 100 per cent respondents from Khyber, Mohmand and Kurram Agencies. From Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan 90 percent of the respondents have indicated militants as a source of threats to their security, while journalists from Bajaur seem to be relatively less harassed by the militants as 60 per cent of them have identified them as major threat. A high percentage of journalists from both NWA and SWA indicated that military and paramilitary agencies cause them distress.

Political administration has been called a source of threat by 80 per cent of respondents from Bajaur Agency, 60 per cent from Khyber, Mohmand and South Waziristan, 50 per cent from Orakzai and Kurram Agency and 40 per cent of respondents from North Waziristan.

The identification of political agents as a source of threat is interesting, as in another research survey as many as 73 per cent of respondents identified political administration among the primary news sources from Fata.

From within the tribal areas, the research also shows that journalists from Khyber Agency have a higher threat perception than journalists reporting from other agencies. Journalists from South Waziristan have not indicated the level of threat that relates with perception of higher threat level than other agencies.

The possible explanation for the perceived higher level of threat and lower number of reported threats might be the fact that the news flow from South Waziristan has slowed down due to the level of threat, and the journalists are not being threatened so much due to the lack of sensitive stories being filed from their side. Apart from security issues, the research report also takes a look at media consumption habits of tribal journalists and their attitudes towards journalistic career.

Job and financial insecurity has been termed as the main reasons for rising frustration amongst journalists. The research reports that 57 per cent of the tribal journalists are working without any financial compensation. Only 18 per cent of the journalists surveyed for this research receive monthly salary and 14 per cent are paid per story.

In a research conducted among 12 percent of tribal journalist populace, only 6 per cent have medical and life insurance and 94 per cent are working in the armed conflict region without basic medical allowance.

Pakistan Press Foundation

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