Over the last decade, media in Pakistan have experienced a remarkable growth and transformation in its role, however, safety and security of media practitioners continues to deteriorate.
According to research by PPF, since 2001, 70 journalists and media workers have lost their lives while pursuing their duties. Of these 45 have been deliberately targeted and murdered for practicing their profession, while others were killed while covering dangerous assignments. In only two cases have the murderers been convicted by the courts.
International press freedom and media safety watchdogs agree that Pakistan has become one of the deadliest countries for journalists. Pakistan ranks in the top 10 of the Impunity Index compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), of those countries that do not investigate and prosecute murders of journalists.
This reluctance to hold those who use violence against media professionals continues despite the damage to Pakistan’s reputation as a democratic country. Even in high profile cases such as that of murderous attack on Hamid Mir in 2014, and the murders of Saleem Shahzad in 2011 and Hayatullah Khan in 2006. In all three cases, high profile commissions were set up but the result has been nil.
Free media is essential to democracy in Pakistan as it promotes transparency and accountability, a prerequisite of sustained economic uplift. The impunity enjoyed by those who attack journalists is seriously hampering press freedom in Pakistan and all stakeholders, including media organisations, the government, and civil society should join hands to devise some mechanisms for ensuring safety of working journalists.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), a non-governmental organization, is an independent, media documentation and training centre, committed to promoting and defending freedom of expression recommends the following steps to control the alarming level of violence against media, and to end impunity for those who attack media practitioners and institutions.