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Pakistan press at risk amid pledge for security

A late March attack on the car of a prominent TV anchor follows a meeting between CPJ and Pakistani leaders who pledge to address the insecurity plaguing the local press. Right, journalists protest media killings in Pakistan.
After the Rumi attack
Journalist denied entry
Mission Journal: Hope
More on Pakistan
Reuters

In Pakistan, reporting on the military intelligence services or insurgent groups or machinations within political parties is the normal grist for the media mill. A lot of the coverage relies on reporters with inside sources. The sources use the media as a battleground for their infighting, relying on sympathetic reporters to put forward their positions. It keeps the wildly popular TV talk show hosts occupied and tends to fill the inside pages of newspapers, if not always the front pages. It's not a problem unique to Pakistan, but the country's media have taken it to a very high level.

CPJ’s 2014 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free

Iraq

Unsolved Murders: 100

Population: 32.6 million

Rank: 1

Somalia

Unsolved Murders: 26

Population: 10.2 million

Rank: 2

The Philippines

Unsolved Murders: 51

Population: 96.7 million

Rank: 3

Sri Lanka

Unsolved Murders: 9

Population: 20.3 million

Rank: 4

Syria

Unsolved Murders: 7

Population: 22.4 million

Rank: 5

Afghanistan

Unsolved Murders: 5

Population: 29.8 million

Rank: 6

Mexico

Unsolved Murders: 16

Population: 120.8 million

Rank: 7

Colombia

Unsolved Murders: 6

Population: 47.7 million

Rank: 8

Pakistan

Unsolved Murders: 22

Population: 179.2 million

Rank: 9

Russia

Unsolved Murders: 14

Population: 143.5 million

Rank: 10

Brazil

Unsolved Murders: 9

Population: 198.7 million

Rank: 11

Nigeria

Unsolved Murders: 5

Population: 168.8 million

Rank: 12

India

Unsolved Murders: 7

Population: 1,237 million

Rank: 13

A few days after our CPJ delegation met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and secured commitments to combat threats to journalists in Pakistan, I sat down with reporters from the country's most restive regions, who described in detail the conditions in which they work. 

Pakistani PM pledges justice, journalist security to CPJ

A CPJ delegation traveled to Pakistan this month and met with high-level Pakistani officials including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who pledged to continue to expand Pakistan's media freedoms and address the insecurity plaguing the country's journalists.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to form a commission on journalist safety. But there are steps that could be taken more quickly. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On March 28, gunmen sprayed the car of TV anchor and widely-respected analyst Raza Rumi, a member of the Express Group of media organizations. He escaped serious injury, but his driver, Mustafa, died. It was the fourth attack on the Express Group in eight months, with four people dead. There has been no serious police investigation into the events which took place in Karachi, Peshawar, and now Lahore, where Rumi's car was "bathed in bullets on one of city's main arteries," as The Express Tribune put it in an editorial on Sunday. 

Willem Marx, right, launched his book 'Balochistan at a Crossroads' on March 13 in New York City. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a series of commitments to safeguard press freedom during a meeting with a CPJ delegation last week. Among them was a pledge to speak out in support of media freedom and against attacks on journalists, particularly in high-conflict areas like Baluchistan. 

New York, March 28, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalist condemns today's attack on the senior Pakistani journalist Raza Rumi in Lahore, which killed his driver. Unidentified gunmen fired on Rumi's car near the Raja Market neighborhood after he left the studio following his TV show. Rumi and his guard were injured, according to news reports. The driver was identified only as Mustafa in reports.

For the last decade, Pakistan has been one of the world's most dangerous countries for the media. At least 46 journalists have been killed, 24 of them murdered for the "crime" of covering the intelligence services, the Taliban, separatists in Baluchistan, or the criminal underworld. The result is a legacy of self-censorship and fear among the Pakistan press; critical stories go unreported. 

On March 7, 2014, at least 20 assailants stormed the offices of Chingari, an Urdu-language daily based in Mirpur, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, according to local reports and local press freedom groups, including the Freedom Network and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. 

New York, March 3, 2014--A Pakistani court on Saturday convicted six defendants for their roles in the murder of Wali Khan Babar, a Geo TV journalist who was shot dead in Karachi in January 2011, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the convictions--the first in the murder of a Pakistani journalist--but calls on authorities to ensure the masterminds are brought to justice.

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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 »

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Bob Dietz

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