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Pakistan

2012

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(AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.

There is an absolutely terrific seven-part special report by The News on Sunday on Pakistan's problem with the killing of journalists and the impunity surrounding their deaths. It's written by and for Pakistanis, with compelling direction from Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia Pakistan--and not only describes and analyzes the problem, but offers approaches to potential solutions.

The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about organized crime on social media under the pseudonym "The Girl from Laredo." Her murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was the first in which a journalist was killed in direct relation for reporting published on social media. It remains unsolved.

Murders of journalists such as Wali Khan Babar give Pakistani journalists plenty of reason to fear. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

Haider Ali, an eyewitness to the 2011 murder of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar, was gunned down on Sunday, two days before he was set to testify in the trial of five suspects. The murder sent shockwaves across Pakistan--one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists and one of the worst in bringing the killers to justice. According to the prosecutor in the case, Ali had identified several suspects as being involved in Babar's murder in a recent statement before a judicial magistrate. His killing was the latest in a series of murders that have targeted people linked to the Babar investigation. Five others--including eyewitnesses, police officers, an informant, and a family member of an investigator--have also been murdered.

Baluchistan has become one of Pakistan's 'hubs of hazard' for journalists in recent years. (AFP/Banaras Khan)

It is one step forward and two steps back in Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province. The nation's highest court has acknowledged the dangerous climate journalists face in Baluchistan, but it has also affirmed a directive that only adds to the pressure cooker conditions that journalists work under.

Pakistani children in Karachi pray for the recovery of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, on October 12. (AP/Shakil Adil)

Journalists, like many others in Pakistan, have spoken out strongly since the Taliban attempted to kill the teenage Malala Yousafzai on October 9. The Taliban, in return, are threatening the media over their coverage, according to journalists and news reports.

Ansar Abbasi, editor of investigations for Pakistan's leading media group Jang, is apparently facing a de facto ban from his own employers. Other TV channels also report being told not to air his views. Abbasi has charged cable operators with spreading immoral, anti-Islamic messages through Indian movies and other popular culture broadcasts. In response, he says, they are censoring his views.

"Elections will not be fought, but will be bought," is a saying being used by political tacticians in Pakistan. Hope for the legitimacy of the country's first fair transfer of power between two civilian governments with the oversight of unbiased media is disappearing quickly. Billions of rupees are pouring into media outlets through secret sources, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash is being paid out in several different ways. 

With ratings driving the profits of media channels, journalists and political talk show hosts are being motivated to stir up controversy at any cost. Meanwhile, the professionals who believe in credibility, objectivity, and honesty as essential parts of ethical journalism are becoming sidelined.

CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country's support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

2012

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Killed in Pakistan

54 journalists killed since 1992

30 journalists murdered

28 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

7 Killed in 2012, making Pakistan the world's third deadliest nation.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Asia

Program Coordinator:
Bob Dietz

bdietz@cpj.org

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