On Wednesday, we identified Pakistan as the country where the most journalists--eight--have been killed for their work in the past year. Six of them were on the job when they were killed in crossfire or a suicide bombing. Two others were assassinated.
I've been posting reports on one journalist--Umar Cheema--who wasn't killed, but whose case represents the other ugly reality, that the killings and abductions of journalists go uninvestigated in Pakistan. We rank Pakistan as 10th worst in the world when it comes to investigating journalists' deaths. The other pieces on Cheema can be found here.
At least 42 journalists are killed in 2010 as two trends emerge. Suicide attacks and violent street protests cause an unusually high proportion of deaths. And online journalists are increasingly prominent among the victims. A CPJ special report
As CPJ reports today, eight of the 42 journalists killed this year were on the job in Pakistan. It's accurate to say the Pakistani victims were like most journalists killed worldwide: They were local journalists covering stories in their communities. But with Pakistan's political and sectarian unrest aggravated by a decade-long war in neighboring Afghanistan, these journalists are covering a local story of global significance.
Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking member of the
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Pakistani Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani on September 22 to express concern about the brutal attack on Umar Cheema. The journalist was abducted on the weekend of September 4-5 by men in black
commando-style uniforms, who beat and humiliated him. It's a case I've written about repeatedly (you can find links here,
and here). But the prime minister has not yet responded to Lugar's letter, which was delivered through the U.S. Embassy in
November 3, 2007, was a dark day in the history of Pakistan's media. Former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf banned all private news channels, and some entertainment and sports channels, through an "oral order." He said he made the move to stop "irresponsible journalism." Many of the staff in the president's office who dealt with the media were unaware of his decision; intelligence agencies were used to tell the cable operators to pull the channels off air. Media reacted strongly. After 80 days of struggle, jailings, and legal battles, including sedition cases brought against some journalists, the government backed down from its decision and allowed the channels back on air.
CPJ has always been careful to avoid making accusations when journalists are abducted or killed in Pakistan. Our tactic is to call for full investigations either by the police, the courts or special investigative bodies. In many such cases, the local journalists' community blames government security agencies, including the powerful Inter Services Intelligence group (ISI), as we noted a few days ago in an alert. Umar Cheema, who was abducted and humiliated over the weekend of September 4 and 5 near Islamabad, has specifically accused the ISI of being involved in his case and has stuck with those accusations.
ext. 140, 115
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
New York, NY, 10001 USA
Blog: Bob Dietz