On January 24, 2014, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its ongoing concern for the safety of journalists in Pakistan with reports that a senior leader of IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), has received death threats in direct response to his activism and campaigning. The IFJ is calling on the Pakistan government to take heed of the calls by Pakistan’s journalists to take action on journalist killings.
The threat on Rana Azeem follows increased national actions by PFUJ members since the recent shooting assassination of three Express News workers and the murder of investigative journalist Shan Dahar on January 1. The PFUJ has called for “10 days of mourning” and increased its visible protests against Taliban and terrorist threats to the media, especially in the troubled Balochistan province.
“Mr Azeem and the PFUJ have strongly conveyed the message to Pakistan government officials, including the Prime Minister but there has been no response on how the government intends to tackle the issue of journalist killings,” the IFJ said. “The government must respond and the media must be protected.”
The PFUJ maintains that journalists must remain visible and vocal to stop further killings.
“It’s not just me receiving threats, many journalists are being threatened and have complained to government but things go on the same,” Rana Azeem said. “Things here in Pakistan seem to be out of control. There is no other way than to go to the people to let them know.”
On January 21, the IFJ sent a letter to Prime Minister Sharif, calling for “serious and overdue action” to protect Pakistani journalists and bring attackers to justice. The IFJ said rhetoric was no longer enough, and it is now time for real action.
Pakistan ranks as the third most dangerous country for journalists, according to the number of fatalities in 2013 as collated by the IFJ. Already in January, four media workers have lost their lives in the line of duty. In October, the IFJ launched the End Impunity campaign to seek justice for journalist killings in Pakistan, Iran and Russia.
Since January 1, 2000, more than 90 journalists have been killed and, despite the appalling statistic, there has not been a successful prosecution.
“The threats against Pakistan’s journalists are palpable as the record of carnage and atrocities shows,” the IFJ said. “At this challenging time for our colleagues in Pakistan, we honour and respect these brave individuals and call for national solidarity so they can continue to raise their voices as a united front against threats to our profession.”