2011 departs with bitter memories
January 13, 2012
The year of 2011 departed us leaving behind its bitter memories. Unfortunately, like the previous year, 2011 left behind it not so found memories for Pakistanis who wish to look back and feel nostalgic. The scourge of terrorism, lawlessness, insecurity, bomb blasts and suicide attacks continue to haunt the countrymen, besides many other depressing events.
The year of 2011 witnessed many events that shocked the country including some high-profile assassinations such as of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, Abbottabad incident, the PNS Mehran attack, continuation of forced disappearances in the country especially those of Baloch youths and recovery of decomposed and defaced bodies in the nationalists insurgency-hit province, the blood letting in Karachi, and the memo scandal.
As the year proved to be distressingly bitter for the country and countrymen, the media was no exception. Like the previous year, media remained under constant attack of different state and non-state actors.
According to Reporters without Borders (RSF) Pakistan remained single deadliest for journalists with second year running. According to RSF, Kuzdar district of Balochistan was among the dangerous places for the media.
In Pakistan media was targeted by militant groups, government authorities, intelligence agencies as well as political and religious groups during 2011. Scores of journalists throughout Pakistan were killed, abducted, injured, harassed and intimidated while performing their duties.
According to Pakistan Press Freedom Report-2011 prepared by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), press freedom in Pakistan faced several threats and challenges in the year 2011.
Press freedom has never been consistent in Pakistan. In the year 2011 too Pakistani media remained target of militant groups, government authorities, intelligence agencies as well as political and religious groups, with at least six journalists killed, 16 injured and several other abducted, harassed and intimidated while performing their duties.
The PPF report said that different regimes in Pakistan have used legal and constitutional means to control the press from public debate and criticism. In it 60 years of history, Pakistan has been ruled by military more than the civilians.
It said that press in Pakistan usually faces threats, violence, economic pressure, etc. Poor literacy, urban orientation of the press, and the high price of newspapers are detrimental factors for the under development of print media in Pakistan. Beside these barricades, one can now easily notice a shift from the centralized broadcasting to an open competition broadcast system in Pakistan, enabling the audience to enjoy more power of selective exposure.
During the first four years of the ruling democratic government, press was operated in a mixed character. However, it gives press an important place although the government imposed bans on TV channels and newspapers on and off. Media was targeted by militant groups, government authorities, intelligence agencies as well as political and religious groups during 2011. Scores of journalists throughout Pakistan were killed, abducted, injured, harassed and intimidated while performing their duties. At least six journalists have been killed in Pakistan in the year 2011 in the line of duty.
They include Javed Naseer Rind, a freelance writer and former subeditor of daily Tawar, Balochistan, whose body was found in Khuzdar on November 5; Shafiullah Khan, a trainee reporter at the daily The News, Peshawar, who died in a Wah Cantt hospital on June 17 after getting injured in a bomb attack in Peshawar on June 11; Asfandyar Abid Naveed, a reporter for the daily Akhbar-i-Khyber, Peshawar, who died in Peshawar due to blast on June 11; Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online and South Asia Correspondent for Italian news agency Adnkronos International, whose body was found from a canal in Mandi Bahauddin district on May31; Nasrullah Khan Afridi, a Peshawar-based correspondent for state-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), the English-language daily Statesman and the Urdu-language daily Mashriq in Khyber tribal agency, who was killed in Peshawar on May 10; and Wali Khan Babar, reporter of Geo News, Karachi, who was gunned down in Karachi on January 13.
The overnment formed an investigation commission to probe into the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad, but it has yet not submitted its findings. For the other slain journalists, they even did not bother to form such a commission. At least 16 journalists were injured in different attacks in the year 2011.
They include Ehsan Kohati, a senior reporter for the Waqt News TV channel (Karachi), who sustained injuries while covering a Muharram rally in Karachi; Khalil Khan Afridi, a senior journalist and former president of the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), who was attacked with a hand grenade on September 21, 2011 in Landikotal; Farhan Effindi, bureau chief of ARY One World television station, who was injured by the supporters of a former provincial minister Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Mirza during a press conference in Hyderabad on August 30; Hazrat Khan Mohamed, bureau chief of the private TV channel ATV Khyber News, was was injured when attacked by unknown armed men on August 22 in Peshawar. Similarly, journalist Muhammad Yaseen Ansari and photographer Khalid Sardar of the daily Roznama Pakistan were manhandled by a mob in Bahawalpur on 15 July. Waqar Kiani, 32, a Pakistan-based correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian was assaulted allegedly by police in Islamabad on June 18. Shahzad Anwar, Vice president of Multan Press Club and chief photographer of the daily Pakistan Akhbaar and six other journalists were injured in a clash with the students of Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan on June 15. Other injured included: Ayaz Ali Sheikh, photographer with the daily Sang-e-Meel; Iqrar, a cameraman with Samaa TV; Zafar Iqbal, reporter with Naya Daur; Zafarul Islam, chief photographer with the daily Din; Suhail Qureshi, cameraman with Apna TV; Tariq Nazir Chaudhry, cameraman with Dunya TV; and Shahzad Anwar, photographer with the daily Pakistan Akhbaar. Jamal Tarakai, 36, a Quetta-based photojournalist working for various media organizations, was arrested, beaten and abused by the police in Quetta on June 14. Tarakai had filmed the first video of security forces firing on five Chechens, including three women, in Quetta’s Kharotabad neighbourhood on May 17. Mohammad Fayyaz Qamar, 25, a Lahore-based cameraman for Dunya News TV, was shot and injured in the premises of Punjab Assembly while he was covering an event.
Besides, many journalists faced threats in the year. They included Hamid Mir, a senior anchor with the Geo News, who received threatening SMS on December 20 after discussing topics on his talk show that were critical of the security establishment.