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Pakistan

2012

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U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in opening remarks at her press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, addressed a wide range of problems in Pakistan, including those faced by journalists. (The full statement is on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.) What was especially gratifying was her mention of meeting with human rights defender and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir at her home--a request we made on Tuesday of Pillay and E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who was also on an official trip to Pakistan.

Asma Jahangir has revealed that government agencies have been threatening her. (AFP/Ben Stansall)

There is no better time than now for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to step out of their tightly planned schedule of meetings in Pakistan and make a trip to the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

The murder of a part-time journalist and a gunfire attack on the house of the president of the Turbat Press Club, both on May 28, underscore the nature of the escalating violence in Baluchistan. According to the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, which monitors violence across South Asia, at least 10 people were killed in Baluchistan on May 28 alone.

A Pakistani journalist holds a sign at a protest against Shahzad's murder in Karachi last year. (AFP/Rizwan Tabassum)

On May 21 this year, a military court convicted three Pakistani naval officers of negligence and dereliction of duty for their actions during an attack on the main naval airbase in the heart of Karachi on May 22, 2011. After the incident had ended, the military said 10 security guards were killed, two aircraft were blown up, and the four men who carried out the attack were shot or blew themselves up after they had held out for 16 hours on the Mehran Naval Base.

Perhaps the best insider details about the raid came from Saleem Shahzad, a political reporter for Asia Online, in his article, "Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistani strike," that ran two days before his abduction on May 29, 2011. He had written in the past about militant groups and the military, with a book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, released just weeks before his murder. In his last article, he wrote about the Mehran events, reporting that armed forces personnel sympathetic to Al-Qaeda had helped coordinate the attack. On May 31 last year, his body was found floating face-down in an irrigation ditch.

May has been a terrible month for journalists in Pakistan, a country that has ranked as the world's deadliest place for the press for two consecutive years. Two journalists have been killed, two more shot and wounded, and one attacked while in police custody, all in less than a month, according to news reports.

Supporters of a Pakistani opposition party carry effigies of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari at a protest rally in Multan on May 11. (AFP/S.S. Mirza

With general elections approaching, the landscape is again bearing eerie resemblance to the final days of General Pervez Musharraf's reign. In November 2007 he banned selected TV channels for 88 days to stifle what he saw as "irresponsible journalism." Now, Pakistani electronic media might be chained again, this time for violating cultural and ethical values by airing satirical programming and interviewing political leaders the government does not like seeing on air.

British Prime Minister Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani at a joint press conference in Islamabad in 2011. (AFP/Aamir Qureshi)

Amid political tumult in Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a team of six ministers are in London for far-ranging meetings today through May 13. The Pakistan-U.K. Enhanced Strategic Dialogue will review education, health, defense, security, and cultural cooperation. CPJ has written a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge that press freedom conditions be raised as well.

The Friday Times in Lahore has come under cyberattack. Earlier Friday, its website could not be accessed.

Najam Sethi, the paper's editor, told CPJ that someone has "launched an attack on the websites of both The Friday Times and Vanguard Books [the book publishing and distribution company that owns the Times]. A tsunami of killer spams and log-ins have clogged the sites and blocked them."

Murtaza Razvi (Dawn.com)

The ceremony for Murtaza Razvi was held in Karachi Friday. Even as more details of the killing of one of the Dawn Media Group's most senior journalists emerge, it's difficult to discern a motive. Several Pakistani media quoted an anonymous police official as saying, "We are investigating into the matter but it is a case of murder because his hands were tied and his body bore torture marks and he had apparently been strangled to death" with a belt. The official said police are waiting for the postmortem report.

At a protest against the murder of a journalist in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a sign reads: "Enough of violence, exclusion and impunity." (AP/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly anti-press violence.

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

Tel: 212-465-1004
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Blog: Bob Dietz