KP Journalists face problems
October 14, 2011
Journalism is considered the fourth pillar of the state. Free media reflects the true picture of a society. It’s a prophetic profession if it defends and promotes honesty and truth. But if pursues self-centered objectives through blackmail and criticism then it is called “yellow journalism”. Today, in Pakistan journalists, to some extent, have got freedom through their sacrifices. Reporters from different TV channels and newspapers get ready for the coverage of all kinds of incidents throughout the country.
Journalists working in the tribal region of Pakistan are facing many problems and challenges on a daily basis, with insecurity topping the list. They are threatened by various militant organizations and they don’t feel safe from the security forces and intelligence agencies either. Apart from insecurity, tribal journalists have very little or sometimes no access to the first-hand information, which seriously hampers their ability to work. Also, they are under pressure from family members and fellow tribesmen, who believe they will get themselves into trouble if they dig up stories about militants and the excesses of the security forces during military operations.
In the KP Province and Tribal Areas they have paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism. Recently, 40 people including Asfand Yar and Saifullah were martyred in the Khyber Super Market blast. Earlier, two journalists Allah Noor and Amir Nawab from Waziristan were targeted on Feb 7, 2007 when they were returning from covering Baitullah Mehsud. The responsibility for their killing was accepted by a little known militant organization Sipah-e-Islam, which claimed that the two journalists were killed for their support to infidels.
After this, target killing of journalists gained momentum. On July 28, 2007 a photo journalist from Charsadda Mehboon Khan was killed in a suicide blast and three of his comrades were injured. Similarly on Dec 30, 2007 a local journalist Tahir Mashadi was killed outside his home. On Feb 29, 2010 senior journalist Sirajuddin died in a suicide attack during the funeral of DSP Mingora. On 22 Dec, 2009 a policeman was killed in a suicide attack outside the National press Club, Peshawar. According to experts, if the bomber had managed to enter the building then more journalists would have been killed. On Aug 4, 2009 two journalists Tahir Awan and Mohammad Imran lost their lives in a terrorist incident in DI Khan.
On September 14, 2010 President Hangu Union of Journalists and senior journalist Misri Khan was killed by unknown armed men when he reached the press club early in the morning. The club is at a stone’s throw from the office of DCO and Police Lines. Target killings of journalists in KP began in Dec 2005 when senior journalist Hayatullah was abducted and later killed. Even his house was also blown up. Till date no one has been able to unearth his killers.
On May 23 2007 Express News correspondent Ibrahim Khan was killed when he was returning after interviewing TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar. No one claimed responsibility for his murder. On Nov 9, 2008 local journalist Qari Shoaib was shot dead by security forces when he was taking his sick daughter to a hospital.
Journalist Sohail Qalander was abducted by unknown people on February 2, 2007 and after 50 days he was recovered from Khyber Agency. On the other hand, journalist Umair Cheema from an Urdu Daily was kidnapped at the time of Sehri. He was tortured for more than six hours and released. However, despite all these incidents journalists are working day and night in tough circumstances, especially in Tribal Areas and the KP Province.
On the other hand, some of the journalists are deprived of their salary and are starving. On December 2008, a journalist Muhammad Azam belonging to a certain media group committed suicide due to non-payment of salary since last many months hence some of the journalists are forced to go in wrong hands, black mailing and other nefarious tactics to fill their empty stomachs.
There should be ’press freedom’ not only for the owners of media houses, but also for their workers. It is unfortunate that a large number of journalists were being expelled from different media organisations without any warning and incentives. The salaries of journalists in rural areas are very low and in some cases journalists are not only deprived of salary but are not even given telephone, fax and transportation charges. It is also regrettable that no Pakistani TV channel covered the protests of journalists who were expelled from big media organisations.
But still the media owners were not ready to make payment of salaries as per price-hike. It has been asserted that these hard facts clearly indicate that media persons were being exploited by media owners who consider that perhaps media persons do not need to take meals for themselves and their kids.
On one hand there are miseries of journalists working in KP and Tribal Areas and on the other are the government representatives who are enjoying perks and privileges but in vain as they have no answer to the problems of masses. In the current circumstances, Electronic Media must play a positive role as criticism on criticism is spoiling the party hence they must move on a much constructive way. During talk shows at night, politicians tend to fight with each other rather they must concentrate on public agendas like Health, poverty, Education, illiteracy, law and order and other heaps of problems as they must refrain from sensationalizing News and must portray or show real facts. Pakistanis living abroad when switch on our Pakistani News Channel they are shocked and dejected to see abusing, slang language on talk shows, bomb blasts and other nonsense therefore can very well know what is the condition of ‘Pakistan’ thick and thin.
In short, more than any other profession, journalism plays an important part in helping us to make sense of the world around us. Responsible, Independent and Free Media can stand us among developing countries.