IT is well known that for those in the media business, Pakistan is a country full of occupational hazards. Here journalists are ‘advised’, threatened or even killed by a variety of actors if they refuse to toe the line.
The attack on media workers in Islamabad on Sunday appears to be part of this pattern of intimidation and violence. Five media persons were injured when unidentified attackers lobbed a cracker at DSNG vans returning from the PTI rally.
Two of the victims work for DawnNews, while employees of Dunya News and Abb Takk News were also among the injured.
Also read: DawnNews vehicle attacked in Islamabad, cameraman injured
A similar incident was witnessed in Karachi in January, when an Express News van was attacked. Unfortunately, in that incident — claimed by the banned TTP — lives were lost. The same media house’s offices in Karachi were also targeted in earlier attacks.
While claims of responsibility for the latest attack had not emerged at the time of writing, a committee has been formed to investigate the incident.
The number of actors who have attacked journalists and media workers in the past have included religious and separatist militants, as well as individuals reportedly associated with political parties.
Personnel apparently working for the security agencies have also been known to target media workers. So until more details of Sunday’s incident emerge, it will be difficult to fix the blame.
However, what past cases make clear is that almost anyone can commit acts of violence against the media in Pakistan, and get away with it. In this case too, how did the attackers disappear into the ether in the supposedly secure environs of Islamabad?
We hope the committee formed to investigate the matter pursues the case and does not end up with inconclusive results similar to those of committees past. And media houses need to close ranks to send a strong message to the state that violence against journalists will not be tolerated and those using intimidatory tactics against media workers must be made to face the law.